Study: Stem cells have electric abilities

Oct 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: Tombs with mythical carvings found in Chinese city that was once along the Silk Road

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

Signaling molecule crucial to stem cell reprogramming

Nov 20, 2014

While investigating a rare genetic disorder, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that a ubiquitous signaling molecule is crucial to cellular reprogramming, a finding with ...

Scientists map mouse genome's 'mission control centers'

Nov 19, 2014

When the mouse and human genomes were catalogued more than 10 years ago, an international team of researchers set out to understand and compare the "mission control centers" found throughout the large stretches ...

How adult fly testes keep from changing into ovaries

Nov 13, 2014

New research in flies shows how cells in adult reproductive organs maintain their sexual identity. The study, publishing online on November 13 in the Cell Press journal Developmental Cell, also identified a mutation that c ...

Recommended for you

Passengers boarding airplanes—we're doing it wrong

2 hours ago

'Tis the season for airplane travel. We may be looking forward to getting where we're going, but most aspects of the travel itself are merely endured. There's stressful security, the madding crowd and the ...

User comments : 0

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.