Developmental Potential Of Stem Cells

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Stem cells are cells that retained cellular renewal ability (Avasthi, Ms, & Ms, 2008). These cells can differentiate to a large spectrum of cell types including but not limited to various organ cells and other tissue cells. There are 2 main types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells (embryo) and somatic stem cells (adult). Depending on the cell’s potency, the ability to differentiate to different cells will vary. There are different potency of cells, which include: totipotency, pluripotency and multipotency (Pei, Xu, Zhuang, Tse, & Esteban, 2010).

Figure 1: Developmental potential of stem cells. Totipotent cells are cells that have the potential to produce the whole organism, which, in essence, is the zygote. As the cells develop, the developmental potential decreases as specificity increases (pluripotent-multipotent-unipotent). With cellular reprogramming, developmental potential can be
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Embryonic stem cells (ES) are pluripotent cells that can generate different germ layer cells. ES has the potential to be used for drug screening and research of diseases like juvenile diabetes, spinal defects/ injury, and many more (Takahashi et al., 2007). These ES can be from in human embryos, but there are many ethical conflicts and problems with the use and study of human ES. To overcome the controversies, induction of pluripotent cells (iPS) from adult stem cells through direct cellular reprogramming (Figure 1). Research from Takahashi’s group in 2007 has shown the possibility of inducing pluripotent properties from adult mouse tail-tip fibroblasts and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. This was done through retrovirus mediated transfection of four transcriptional factors: Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4 (Figure 1)(Mitalipov & Wolf, 2009; Takahashi & Yamanaka, 2006). iPS were indistinguishable from ES cells in terms of morphology, proliferation properties, gene expression and teratoma

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