Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and their derivatives are increasingly being used in industry to gain a competitive edge in drug discovery and a new wave of biotechnology start-up companies are poised to evaluate hPSC-derived cell therapies. Over the past decade protocols to a broad repertoire of hPSC-derived cell fates have been identified and published differentiating pluripotent stem cells to generate cells more capable of recapitulating phenotypes seen in primary cells. Although, commercial uses for these cells are quite similar to academics on the day-to-day, there are stark differences in how industry plans to use pluripotent tissue. Seen through the lens of industry, approaches to high throughput screening, how one employs disease modeling, and the overall need for greater scale and reproducibility become greater priorities.
Worldwide hPSC-derived cells are being evaluated in clinical trials, and with great enthusiasm within the United States several industry and academic efforts are underway to determine if a cure can be found. These endeavors further underscore the importance of keeping the technical limitations of hPSCs and their derivatives in mind. Numerous hurdles still remain before cells can make it to the clinic. Cells will have to be thoroughly vetted for safety, engineering solutions need to be identified for large-scale production, and protocols require adaptation to adhere to good manufacturing practices. Even then, limitations remain as to appropriate disease indications for cellular therapies.