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Open Badges Review

The 3R principle: advancing clinical application of human pluripotent stem cells

Michael D O'Connor

Author Affiliations

School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Molecular Medicine Research Group, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia

Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013, 4:21  doi:10.1186/scrt169

Published: 8 March 2013


The first derivation of human embryonic stem cells brought with it a clear understanding that animal models of human disease might be replaced by an unlimited supply of human cells for research, drug discovery, and drug development. With the advent of clinical trials using human pluripotent stem cell-based therapies, it is both timely and relevant to reflect on factors that will facilitate future translation of this technology. Human pluripotent cells are increasingly being used to investigate the molecular mechanisms that underpin normal and pathological human development. Their differentiated progeny are also being used to identify novel pharmaceuticals, to screen for toxic effects of known chemicals, and to investigate cell or tissue transplantation strategies. The intrinsic assumption of these research efforts is that the information gained from these studies will be more accurate, and therefore of greater relevance, than traditional investigations based on animal models of human disease and injury. This review will therefore evaluate how animals and animal-derived products are used for human pluripotent stem cell research, and will indicate how efforts to further reduce or remove animals and animal products from this research will increase the clinical translation of human pluripotent stem cell technologies through drug discovery, toxicology screening, and cell replacement therapies.