How genes share their workspace

Layers of gene control allow DNA to flexibly add new information. Genes and their genetic switches are organized into functional units to turn genes on or off just as needed. Disrupting these units can lead to disease, but ...

New advances in stem-cell derived mouse embryo model

Just two weeks after announcing the development of a mouse embryo model, complete with beating hearts and the foundations for a brain and other organs, from mouse stem cells, researchers in the laboratory of Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, ...

First mouse model with mitochondrial tRNALeu mutation developed

Studying the role of mitochondria—the specialized structures within cells responsible for energy production—in metabolic diseases has been difficult because of a lack of animal models with the necessary mitochondrial ...

The chemical controlling life and death in hair follicles

A single chemical is key to controlling when hair follicle cells divide, and when they die. This discovery could not only treat baldness, but ultimately speed wound healing because follicles are a source of stem cells.

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Embryonic stem cell

Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) are stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of an early stage embryo known as a blastocyst. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells.

Embryonic Stem (ES) cells are pluripotent. This means they are able to differentiate into all derivatives of the three primary germ layers: ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. These include each of the more than 220 cell types in the adult body. Pluripotency distinguishes ES cells from multipotent progenitor cells found in the adult; these only form a limited number of cell types. When given no stimuli for differentiation, (i.e. when grown in vitro), ES cells maintain pluripotency through multiple cell divisions. The presence of pluripotent adult stem cells remains a subject of scientific debate; however, research has demonstrated that pluripotent stem cells can be directly generated from adult fibroblast cultures.

Because of their plasticity and potentially unlimited capacity for self-renewal, ES cell therapies have been proposed for regenerative medicine and tissue replacement after injury or disease. However Diseases treated by these non-embryonic stem cells include a number of blood and immune-system related genetic diseases, cancers, and disorders; juvenile diabetes; Parkinson's; blindness and spinal cord injuries. Besides the ethical concerns of stem cell therapy (see stem cell controversy), there is a technical problem of graft-versus-host disease associated with allogeneic stem cell transplantation. However, these problems associated with histocompatibility may be solved using autologous donor adult stem cells or via therapeutic cloning.

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