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Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) better than Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs)?

Where surgeries and medicines fail, stem cell therapies give a ray of hope! What seemed like a brilliant idea for biogenic Sci-Fi movies earlier is now a stark reality that gifts renewed hope to millions of patients worldwide. Currently, global stem cell research has a plethora of promises for several complex conditions ranging from autoimmune to neuropsychiatric. Today, the domain of tissue-specific regenerative medicine is hugely popularized by stem cell therapy and one important question which comes to the mind of every budding stem cell research scientist is: Why are Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) used more than Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) for stem cell therapy?

Induced pluripotent stem cells are experimentally developed by genetic engineering of somatic body cells using Oct3, Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4/Nanog/Lin28. Upon the discovery of iPSCs in the early 2000s, the scientific community largely favored the use of iPSCs due to the pluripotent nature and the absence of any ethical issues corresponding to embryo disruption. But limitations arose in their application as they started showing signs of teratoma formation after cell-transplantation. Teratomas, ranging from benign to malignant, are germ cell tumors which are commonly composed of 3 germ layers having multiple cell types. Besides teratoma formation, genomic instability is another cause for limiting the use of iPSCs in regenerative medicine.

In contrast, Mesenchymal Stem Cells show no such signs of teratoma upon transplantation and portray many therapy-compatible properties for cell-based clinical applications. MSCs are multipotent stem cells that are capable of both self-renewal and multilineage differentiation into mesoderm origin tissues like bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, and bone marrow. These cells are easy to procure and harvest, have a wide differentiating potential, have immunomodulatory effects and are safe without a potential of malignancy after infusion. MScs can be procured from bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid, dental pulp, and placenta. Moreover, the applications of Mesenchymal stem cells are not ethically restricted and can be safely used for patients with informed consent.

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