Heart transplantation (HT) is the only radical treatment available for patients with end-stage heart failure that is refractory to optimal medical treatment and device therapies. However, HT as a therapeutic option is limited by marked donor shortage. To overcome this difficulty, regenerative medicine using human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) has drawn increasing attention as an alternative to HT. Several issues including the preparation of clinical-grade hiPSCs, methods for large-scale culture and production of hiPSCs and cardiomyocytes, prevention of tumorigenesis secondary to contamination of undifferentiated stem cells and non-cardiomyocytes, and establishment of an effective transplantation strategy need to be addressed to fulfill this unmet medical need. The ongoing rapid technological advances in hiPSC research have been directed toward the clinical application of this technology, and currently, most issues have been satisfactorily addressed. Cell therapy using hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes is expected to serve as an integral component of realistic medicine in the near future and is being potentially viewed as a treatment that would revolutionize the management of patients with severe heart failure.
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