Tapping the foundation of youth: exploiting stem cells for the treatment of degenerative disease

Although medical advances over the past century have contributed to increased longevity, providing healthcare for an ageing population poses significant challenges due to the rising incidence of chronic and degenerative diseases. This seminar will discuss how pluripotent stem cells may provide a new paradigm in medicine to help address these issues. In particular, the feasibility of generating bespoke stem cells from individuals through the techniques of induced pluripotency, offers the opportunity to develop modes of intractable human diseases in vitro which have already begun to yield insights into their molecular basis while providing potential new avenues for drug discovery. Furthermore, the availability of an unlimited supply of human cell types and tissues differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) has already begun to revolutionise toxicology and reduce the attrition rate of new drugs. However, it is the availability of therapeutic cell types for the replacement of diseased or worn out tissues and organs that remains the ultimate goal of regenerative medicine and provides a tantalising glimpse into a future of personalised medicine tailored to an ageing population.