Modeling how cells choose their fates

It may seem hard to believe, but each one of us began as a single cell that proliferated into the trillions of cells that make up our bodies. Though each of our cells has the exact same genetic information, each also performs ...

Genes are switched on in the human embryo from the get-go

The finding that some genes are active from the get-go challenges the textbook view that genes don't become active in human embryos until they are made up of four-to-eight cells, two or three days after fertilization.

Stem cells organize themselves into embryoid

Researchers at the University of Bonn have developed a method to generate embryo-like cell complexes from the stem cells of mice. The method provides new insights into embryonic development. In the medium term, it might also ...

A missing genetic switch at the origin of embryonic malformations

Embryonic development follows delicate stages: For everything to go well, many genes must coordinate their activity according to a very meticulous scheme and tempo. This precision mechanism sometimes fails, leading to more ...

Mechanical forces shape the 'immortal' hydra

Hydras are tiny creatures with regenerative superpowers: they can renew their stem cells and replace damaged body parts in only a few days. Now, researchers in the Tsiairis group have found that mechanical forces turn on ...

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Stem cell

Stem cells are cells found in most, if not all, multi-cellular organisms. They are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiating into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Research in the stem cell field grew out of findings by Canadian scientists Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till in the 1960s. The two broad types of mammalian stem cells are: embryonic stem cells that are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells that are found in adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all of the specialized embryonic tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells, but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin or intestinal tissues.

Stem cells can now be grown and transformed into specialized cells with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves through cell culture. Highly plastic adult stem cells from a variety of sources, including umbilical cord blood and bone marrow, are routinely used in medical therapies. Embryonic cell lines and autologous embryonic stem cells generated through therapeutic cloning have also been proposed as promising candidates for future therapies.

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