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Potential for Pharmacological Manipulation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stuart Atkinson, Professor Majlinda LakoORCiD, Professor Lyle Armstrong


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The therapeutic potential of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is vast, allowing disease modelling, drug discovery and testing and perhaps most importantly regenerative therapies. However, problems abound; techniques for cultivating self-renewing hESCs tend to give a heterogeneous population of self-renewing and partially differentiated cells and general include animal-derived products which can be cost-prohibitive for large scale production and effective lineage specific differentiation protocols also still remain relatively undefined and are inefficient in producing large amounts of cells for therapeutic use. Further, the mechanisms and signalling pathways which mediate pluripotency and differentiation are still to be fully appreciated. However, over the recent years, the development/discovery of a range of effective small molecule inhibitors/activators has had a huge impact in hESC biology. Large scale screening techniques, coupled with greater knowledge of the pathways involved, have generated pharmacological agents which can boost hESC pluripotency/self-renewal and survival and has allowed great increases in the efficiency of various differentiation protocols, while also aiding the delineation of several important signalling pathways. Within this review, we hope to describe the current uses of small molecule inhibitors/activators in hESC biology and their potential uses in the future

Publication metadata

Author(s): Atkinson SP, Lako M, Armstrong L

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Pharmacology

Year: 2013

Volume: 169

Issue: 2

Pages: 269-289

Print publication date: 01/05/2013

Online publication date: 25/04/2013

Acceptance date: 18/03/2012

ISSN (print): 0007-1188

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5381

Publisher: The British Pharmacological Society


DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01978.x

PubMed id: 22515554