Study: Stem cells have electric abilities

October 21, 2005

Johns Hopkins University scientists say they've discovered the presence of functional ion channels in human embryonic stem cells.

The Baltimore researchers say the ion channels act as electrical wires, permitting the ESCs, versatile cells, to conduct and pass along electric currents.

The scientists say they believe if they could selectively block some of the channels in implanted cells derived from stem cells, they might be able to prevent potential tumor development.

"A major concern for human ESC-based therapies is the potential for engineered grafts to go haywire after transplantation and form tumors, for instance, due to contamination by only a few undifferentiated human ESCs," said Ronald Li, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "Our discovery of functional ion channels ... provides an important link to the differentiation, or maturation, and cell proliferation, or growth of human ESCs."

Li said because human ESCs can potentially provide an unlimited supply of even highly specialized cells, such as brain and heart cells, for transplantation, they may provide an ultimate solution to limited donor availability.

The research appeared in the Aug. 5 online issue of the journal Stem Cells.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers uncover key to barley domestication

Related Stories

How a single molecule turns one immune cell into another

July 30, 2015

All it takes is one molecule to reprogram an antibody-producing B cell into a scavenging macrophage. This transformation is possible, new evidence shows, because the molecule (C/EBPa, a transcription factor) "short-circuits" ...

Production of iPS cells: Discovery of the fifth element

July 8, 2015

Since 2006, research has succeeded in generating, from specialised adult cells, induced pluripotent cells (iPS cells), with huge potential applications, particularly for regenerative medicine. However, the process has still ...

Recommended for you

Innovations from the wild world of optics and photonics

August 2, 2015

Traditional computers manipulate electrons to turn our keystrokes and Google searches into meaningful actions. But as components of the computer processor shrink to only a few atoms across, those same electrons become unpredictable ...

Shedding light on millipede evolution

August 2, 2015

As an National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded entomologist, Virginia Tech's Paul Marek has to spend much of his time in the field, hunting for rare and scientifically significant species. He's provided NSF with an inside ...

Better together: graphene-nanotube hybrid switches

August 2, 2015

Graphene has been called a wonder material, capable of performing great and unusual material acrobatics. Boron nitride nanotubes are no slackers in the materials realm either, and can be engineered for physical and biological ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.