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Paul Fairchild

Exploiting induced pluripotency for regenerative medicine and immunotherapy

The derivation of pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells from human blastocysts in 1998 marked a turning point in biomedical science by offering the opportunity to derive potentially limitless numbers of somatic cell types to replace diseased or worn out tissues. Such an approach has far-reaching implications for the treatment of conditions as diverse as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, myocardial infarction and macular degeneration and has recently been superseded by the demonstration that any somatic cell can be reprogrammed to so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) through the introduction of as few as three transcription factors, thereby overcoming many of the ethical issues surrounding the derivation of human ES cells.  Nevertheless, the promise of regenerative medicine may only be realised by addressing the immunological barriers that will provoke rejection of the transplanted tissues.  My laboratory is, therefore, working at the interface between stem cell biology and immunology by exploiting the principles of transplantation tolerance in order to gain acceptance of stem cell-derived tissues. Furthermore, having developed protocols for the differentiation of dendritic cell subsets from human iPSC, we are investigating their utility for use in immunotherapy which may have implications for the treatment of disease states as diverse as cancer, the lysosomal storage diseases and clearance of residual viral reservoirs in patients infected with HIV-1