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Arch Hellen Med, 38(4), July-August 2021, 459-470


Review of the applications of iPSCs and their role in cancer

M.D. Kotsari, S. Papakostopoulou, E.P. Kokkinogenis, M. Deli, P. Zoumpourlis, M. Goulielmaki, V. Zoumpourlis
Unit of Biomedical Applications, Institute of Chemical Biology, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, Greece

In general, cancer is a heterogeneous group of diseases mainly characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Despite greater understanding of the biological mechanisms and the excessive proliferation, invasion and metastasis of cancer cells, cancer remains a multi-stage process of development and evolution that has not been fully elucidated. For this reason, it is imperative to use new methods for its study, and to find innovative assays for the improvement of its diagnosis and treatment. It appears that a solution to the above challenges comes from the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which, in combination with recent developments in bioengineering, tissue processing and culture and genome editing, represent a new opportunity in the field of cancer management. iPSCs are emerging as the most versatile tool in biomedical research and pharmacological studies on cancer. Oncogenic transformation and somatic cell reprogramming are multi-stage processes that share certain common characteristics, and therefore study of iPSCs derived from cancer cells can promote better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that govern the onset and progression of human cancers. Direct applications of iPSCs include drug screening, toxicology testing, biomarker identification and bio-mechanical tissue replacement. Recently, the development of vaccines based on oncofetal antigens, using self-induced stem cells, has shown significant therapeutic potential. This review examines the possibilities currently offered by iPSCs in cancer research, their limitations and their contribution to new therapeutic approaches.

Key words: Cell reprogramming, Disease modeling, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Oncogenesis, Transformation.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine