Genetics

A milestone in muscular dystrophy therapy

Muscle stem cells enable our muscle to build up and regenerate over a lifetime through exercise. But if certain muscle genes are mutated, the opposite occurs. In patients suffering from muscular dystrophy, the skeletal muscle ...

Genetics

Major advance enables study of genetic mutations in any tissue

For the first time, scientists are able to study changes in the DNA of any human tissue, following the resolution of long-standing technical challenges by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. The new method, called ...

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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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