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Concise Review: Human Embryonic Stem Cells: What Have We Done? What Are We Doing? Where Are We Going?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Dusko Ilic, Caroline Ogilvie

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalStem cells (Dayton, Ohio)
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jun 2016
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


King's Authors


Human pluripotent stem cells possess remarkable proliferative and developmental capacity and thus have great potential for advancement of cellular therapy, disease modeling, and drug discovery. Twelve years have passed since the first reported isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines (hESC), followed in October 2010 by the first treatment of a patient with hESC-based cellular therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges and obstacles in the early days, hESC clinical potential reached application in an extraordinarily short time. Eight currently ongoing clinical trials are yielding encouraging results, and these are likely to lead to new trials for other diseases. However, with the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), disease-specific hESC lines derived from patients undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis for single gene disorders fell short of expectations. Lack of ethical controversy made human iPSC (hiPSC) with specific genotypes/phenotypes more appealing than hESC for drug discovery and toxicology-related studies, and in time, lines from HLA-homologous hiPSC banks are likely to take over from hESC in clinical applications. Currently, hESC are indispensable; the results of hESC-based clinical trials will set a gold standard for future iPSC-based cellular therapy. Stem Cells 2017;35:17–25.

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