Turning Stem Cells into Tissues

Posted on: January 31, 2006

Stem cells are cells that have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells for as long as the person or animal is still alive.

The most eagerly anticipated therapeutic use for stem cells is regenerative medicine. Biologists dream of the day they can take a stem cell and create any of the body’s cell types, producing pancreas or liver tissue that doctors could use to aid a failing organ. But to realize that dream, scientists must first understand the forces operating in stem cells — what makes some stem cells stay stem cells, while others grow into brain, liver, and skin cells?

Technology review magazine from MIT has a nice article on how scientists are learning how to control the two unique properties of stem cells.


2 Responses to "Turning Stem Cells into Tissues"

[…] Biosingularity links today to an article in the MIT Technology Review on the state of science with regard to directing differentiation of stem cells into more specific types and tissues. This is of course an area that has been under study for a while. It’s essential to our potential ability to engineer replacement tissues. At the heart of the issue is what makes cells — which each have the entire blueprint for your body — develop into particular types, at the level of DNA transcription.  While the pathways and molecules involved have been under investigation with some fruitful results, this is a major step in that people are beginning to integrate all of the information that’s been discovered, with an aim toward total deliberate control of cell development. […]

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