Silencing retroviruses to awaken cell potential

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to differentiate into any type of cell in the human body. Once differentiated though, the newly minted somatic cells live out the rest of their days as that specific cell type and never ...

RNA regulation is crucial for embryonic stem cell differentiation

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are distinguished by their dual ability to self-renew and their potential to differentiate, both of which require tight regulatory control. During the differentiation of ESCs, various cells develop ...

Research identifies earlier origin of neural crest cells

Neural crest cells—embryonic cells in vertebrates that travel throughout the body and generate many cell types—have been thought to originate in the ectoderm, the outermost of the three germ layers formed in the earliest ...

How chromosomes change their shape during cell differentiation

The human genome is made up of 46 chromosomes, each of which has a length of about 100 to 200 million base pairs, the building blocks of the DNA double helix. Even during interphase, the period in between the cell division ...

How time affects the fate of stem cells

How do temporal variations in protein concentrations affect biology? It's a question that biologists have only recently begun to address, and the findings are increasingly showing that random temporal changes in the amount ...

Signaling factor seeking gene

During embryonic development, stem cells begin to take on specific identities, becoming distinct cell types with specialized characteristics and functions, in order to form the diverse organs and systems in our bodies. Cells ...

New nanotechnology could aid stem cell transplantation research

Nanotechnology developed at Rutgers University-New Brunswick could boost research on stem cell transplantation, which may help people with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, other neurodegenerative diseases and central ...

Gatekeepers of the genome

Transcription factors control gene activation in cells. By binding to specific segments of DNA, they enable the blueprints that code for cellular proteins to be produced. But how are such factors themselves regulated?

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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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