Inducing pluripotency using in vivo gene therapy.
Since the original study of Takahashi and Yamanaka in 2006 , the field of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has made a great progress. Since then, a number of different cell types have been successfully brought to a state of pluripotency and a different set of transcription factors have been reported to be sufficient to reprogram mouse and human somatic cells. Although still with low efficiency of reprogramming, the patient- and disease-specific therapy represents the most valuable outcome of the whole area of iPS cells. Herein we hypothesize that inducing pluripotency in vivo might be an interesting alternative to the standard ex vivo methods. In vivo reprogramming would benefit from the direct administration of the DNA encoding the reprogramming factors into the target tissue/organ of an individual. The target cells that are to be reprogrammed would be transduced in their natural environment that can provide all the necessary molecular and spatial factors that could be missing during ex vivo reprogramming. However, since no available data exist on in vivo induced pluripotency, it is difficult to predict if testing the hypothesis will provide any promising results. On the way to this point, a number of pilot experiments have to be performed to overcome many limitations and pitfalls that are arising from such a risky concept. Safety issues, such as the risk of somatic tumor formation, will likely be the crucial point to focus on during the process of proving the validity of the hypothesis. However, initial data from the study on inflammatory bowel disease suggest that there might be some beneficial effect of in vivo gene therapy based on reprogramming the target cells. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.