A rejuvenation programme
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are produced from adult cells which have been differentiated to restore their pluripotency via genetic modifications.
In fact, researchers take cells from a given tissue (skin, blood, etc.) and insert a mixture of genes into them. These are used to dedifferentiate the cells which then have the ability to specialise and proliferate, specific to embryonic stem cells, restored.
A new source of cells
These cells are researchers' favourites because they have the same advantages as embryonic stem cells but without the ethical disadvantages (no manipulation of embryos involved).
They are therefore a valuable source of multipurpose cells, which can be used to test new drugs, for example. Used in cell therapy, they no longer carry the risk of rejection, because it is the patient's own cells which are being grafted. But for this last application, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that they are totally harmless, particularly regarding the risk of uncontrolled cell proliferation. We are still a long way from using them in clinical applications.