Personalizing stem cell research and therapy: The arduous road ahead or missed opportunity?

S. A. Patel, C. C. King, P. K. Lim, U. Habiba, M. Dave, R. Porecha, P. Rameshwar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The euphoria of stem cell therapy has diminished, allowing scientists, clinicians and the general public to seriously re-examine how and what types of stem cells would effectively repair damaged tissue, prevent further tissue damage and/or replace lost cells. Importantly, there is a growing recognition that there are substantial person-to-person differences in the outcome of stem cell therapy. Even though the small molecule pharmaceuticals have long remained a primary focus of the personalized medicine research, individualized or targeted use of stem cells to suit a particular individual could help forecast potential failures of the therapy or identify, early on, the individuals who might benefit from stem cell interventions. This would however demand collaboration among several specialties such as pharmacology, immunology, genomics and transplantation medicine. Such transdisciplinary work could also inform how best to achieve efficient and predictable stem cell migration to sites of tissue damage, thereby facilitating tissue repair. This paper discusses the possibility of polarizing immune responses to rationalize and individualize therapy with stem cell interventions, since generalized "one-size-fits- all" therapy is difficult to achieve in the face of the diverse complexities posed by stem cell biology. We also present the challenges to stem cell delivery in the context of the host related factors. Although we focus on the mesenchymal stem cells in this paper, the overarching rationale can be extrapolated to other types of stem cells as well. Hence, the broader purpose of this paper is to initiate a dialogue within the personalized medicine community by expanding the scope of inquiry in the field from pharmaceuticals to stem cells and related cell-based health interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology


  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Immunosuppression
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Microenvironment
  • Personalized therapeutics


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