Regenerative medicine has rapidly evolved, due to progress in cell and molecular biology allowing the isolation, characterization, expansion, and engineering of cells as therapeutic tools. Despite past limited success in the clinical translation of several promising preclinical results, this novel field is now entering a phase of renewed confidence and productivity, marked by the commercialization of the first cell therapy products. Ongoing issues in the field include the use of pluripotent vs. somatic and of allogenic vs. autologous stem cells. Moreover, the recognition that several of the observed beneficial effects of cell therapy are not due to integration of the transplanted cells, but rather to paracrine signals released by the exogenous cells, is generating new therapeutic perspectives in the field. Somatic stem cells are outperforming embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells in clinical applications, mainly because of their more favorable safety profile. Presently, both autologous and allogeneic somatic stem cells seem to be equally safe and effective under several different conditions. Recognition that a number of therapeutic effects of transplanted cells are mediated by paracrine signals, and that such signals can be found in extracellular vesicles isolated from culture media, opens novel therapeutic perspectives in the field of regenerative medicine.
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