Ex vivo cell/tissue-based models are an essential step in the workflow of pathophysiology studies, assay development, disease modeling, drug discovery, and development of personalized therapeutic strategies. For these purposes, both scientific and pharmaceutical research have adopted ex vivo stem cell models because of their better predictive power. As matter of a fact, the advancing in isolation and in vitro expansion protocols for culturing autologous human stem cells, and the standardization of methods for generating patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells has made feasible to generate and investigate human cellular disease models with even greater speed and efficiency. Furthermore, the potential of stem cells on generating more complex systems, such as scaffold-cell models, organoids, or organ-on-a-chip, allowed to overcome the limitations of the two-dimensional culture systems as well as to better mimic tissues structures and functions. Finally, the advent of genome-editing/gene therapy technologies had a great impact on the generation of more proficient stem cell-disease models and on establishing an effective therapeutic treatment. In this review, we discuss important breakthroughs of stem cell-based models highlighting current directions, advantages, and limitations and point out the need to combine experimental biology with computational tools able to describe complex biological systems and deliver results or predictions in the context of personalized medicine.
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