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Stem cells: are we ready for therapy?

Cell therapy as a replacement for diseased or destroyed endogenous cells is a major component of regenerative medicine. Various types of stem cells are or will be used in clinical settings as autologous or allogeneic products. In this chapter, the progress that has been made to translate basic stem cell research into pharmaceutical manufacturing processes will be reviewed. Even if in public perception, embryonic stem (ES) cells and more recently induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells dominate the field of regenerative medicine and will be discussed in great detail, it is the adult stem cells that are used for decades as therapeutics. Hence, these cells will be compared to ES and iPS cells. Finally, special emphasis will be placed on the scientific, technical, and economic challenges of developing stem cell-based in vitro model systems and cell therapies that can be commercialized.

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