The pressing demand to elucidate the biology of human embryonic stem (ES) cells and to realize their therapeutic potential has greatly promoted the progresses in the optimization of the culture systems used for this highly promising cell type. These progresses include the characterization of exogenous regulators of pluripotency and differentiation, the development of animal-free, defined, and scalable culture systems, and some pioneering efforts to establish good manufactory practice facilities to derive and expand clinical-grade human ES cells and their derivatives. All of these advancements appear to be also applicable to the derivation and culture of human induced pluripotent stem cells, an ES cell-like cell type derived from somatic cells via reprogramming. This review attempts to summarize these progresses and discuss some of the remaining challenges.
Keywords: Human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, growth factors, tissue culture
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