Stem cells are one of the leading methods through which we will gain the next generation of medical treatments. Given their ability to develop into almost any cell type, the medical applications are endless. Since the methods through which to reprogramme these master progenitors were established, many tests and clinical trials have taken place. However, as is often the case in biology, the picture is more complicated than simply reprogramming these cells with a cocktail of proteins. Stem cell expert Professor Osamu Ohneda is a Principal Investigator at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. ‘Our focus is to achieve autologous transplantation whereby, mesenchymal stem cells are taken from the patient, encouraged to grow and reprogrammed before transplantation into the patient,’ he observes. This process would be a crucial step in the personalisation of medicine, however, the more this process has been tested, the clearer it has become that additional variables are in play. ‘There have been issues with nearly every step of the process after the acquirement of the raw mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) necessary,’ Ohneda highlights. ‘The MSCs don’t always respond as expected to growth stimulants and differentiation cues and transplants don’t always take.’ More in depth research is needed to overcome these issues and turn stem cell’s potential into a reality. Investigating and solving these issues is the work of Ohneda and his research team, including Assistant Professor Vuong Cat Khanh and Assistant Professor Toshiharu Yamashita.