Wang, Chen Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Last reviewed:September 2016
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- Overview of stem cells
- Totipotent and embryonic stem cells
- Embryonic germ cells
- Growing mouse embryonic stem cells
- Growing human embryonic stem cells
- Adult stem cells
- Blood stem cells
- Isolating blood stem cells
- Umbilical cord blood and cord blood banks
- Mesenchymal stem cells
- Neural stem cells
- Potential clinical applications
- Somatic cell nuclear transfer stem cells
- Induced pluripotent stem cells
- Ethical and regulatory issues
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Cells that have the ability to self-replicate and to give rise to mature cells. The concept of stem cells (Fig. 1) was originally based on renewing tissues. Many adult tissues, including the skin, blood, and intestines, consist of mostly mature and short-lived cells that must be continuously replaced. Stem cells were postulated as the source of the self-renewal. In the early 1960s, Canadian scientists Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till provided the first experimental proof of the existence of stem cells in the blood system. They revealed that a type of cell in bone marrow possesses the capacity to replicate itself and to differentiate into various lineages of mature blood cells. Self-renewal, together with the capacity for differentiation, defined the properties of stem cells. This definition is generally used in stem cell biology today. See also: Cell (biology); Cell biology; Cell differentiation; Cell lineage
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