July 10, 2008
Genes Control Embryonic Stem Cell State

The identification of genes that keep embryonic stem cells in the embryonic state will help in the development of ways to make stem cells become more or less embryonic.

Scientists have identified about two dozen genes that control embryonic stem cell fate. The genes may either prod or restrain stem cells from drifting into a kind of limbo, they suspect. The limbo lies between the embryonic stage and fully differentiated, or specialized, cells, such as bone, muscle or fat.

By knowing the genes and proteins that control a cell's progress toward the differentiated form, researchers may be able to accelerate the process a potential boon for the use of stem cells in therapy or the study of some degenerative diseases, the scientists say.

Their finding comes from the first large-scale search for genes crucial to embryonic stem cells. The research was carried out by a team at the University of California, San Francisco and is reported in a paper in the July 11, 2008 issue of "Cell."

This understanding will lead scientists to eventually be able to turn adult cells into embryonic stem cells. This will also lead to techniques to instruct embryonic stem cells to become more differentiated (specialized). So if kidney tissue is needed it will become possible to instruct the stem cells to become kidney cells. Ditto other cell types as needed.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 July 10 11:17 PM  Biotech Stem Cells

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