New iPS cell conventional wisdom from polls: epigenetics & mutations remain concerns, immunogenicity not so much

I recently did a series of 4 polls on potential roadblock issues in the iPS cell field.

The impetus for these polls was my sense that there were substantial differences in views on whether iPS cells were now proven to be equivalent to ES cells in 4 key ways.

iPS cell pollsTurns out the polls got a good number of respondents and revealed some clear insight into people’s views of the seeming major iPS cell issues of the past few years and currently.

One of the hottest questions of the day is whether iPS cells are immunogenic when used in an autologous manner. Surprisingly, respondents to the poll were not super concerned about it though. Only 6% outright said that iPS cells are definitely immunogenic. However, I think correctly, some respondents indicated that specific individual iPS cells sometimes could be immunogenic.

What about iPS cell epigenetics? By a huge margin, the majority of respondents reported that iPS cells do not have precisely the same epigenetic state as ES cells. I think an important question is whether these epigenetic differences, which I also believe exist, have any functional meaning. At this point I think the field just does not know.

On a related issue, about 72% of people said that iPS cells sometimes or always have epigenetic memories of their cells of origin.

Finally, 82% of people believe that iPS cells sometimes or always have a few mutations that are not traceable back to their parental cells of origin. I suspect that number of mutations is low, but variable.

What’s the take home message from this polling?

Taken together these polls are a nice snapshot I think from a very educated readership on where things stand for iPS cells. The overall gestalt is that iPS cells are unlikely to be immunogenic so that’s really not a big concern today, but people do remain concerned, first of all, about epigenetic issues such as epigenetic blemishes in iPS cells including memories ,and secondly most people are still convinced that iPS cells have a handful of mutations.


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