The enthusiasm surrounding the clinical potential of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is tempered by the fact that key issues regarding their safety, efficacy, and long-term benefits have thus far been suboptimal. Small molecules can potentially relieve these problems at major junctions of stem cell biology and regenerative therapy. In this review we will introduce recent advances in these important areas and the first generation of small molecules used in the regenerative context. Current chemical biology studies will provide the archetype for future interdisciplinary collaborations and improve clinical benefits of cell-based therapies.
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