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Pluripotency and differentiation in embryos and stem cells


Adjaye,  James A.
Max Planck Society;

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Adjaye, J. A., Byskov, A. G., Cibelli, J. B., De Maria, R., Minger, S., Sampaolesi, M., et al. (2008). Pluripotency and differentiation in embryos and stem cells. The International Journal of Developmental Biology, 52(7), 801-809.

Each year many scientific meetings are held on stem cells to appraise the state of knowledge on their potency, differentiation and applications. So why did we hold another meeting? Because we thought one aspect was not adequately addressed in the others. When thinking of how our body is derived from a single fertilized egg, it is self-evident that the embryo is the ‘mother’ of all stem cells. This fact is probably overlooked because it is so remote (decades back in our lives!) and because embryonic stem cells do not exist as such in the embryo. However, this also tends to be ignored on purpose in many stem cell meetings because working on (human) embryos brings up substantial ethical concerns that bear on the scientific undertaking like nothing else. The origin of stem cells has become even more of a sensitive issue since the discovery in 2006 that embryonic stem (ES) cell-like cells can be generated in a petri dish straight from somatic cells by retrovirus-mediated transfer of selected genes. These new cells have been named ‘induced pluripotent stem‘ (iPS) cells and have been obtained without any egg or embryo consumption (Takahashi and Yamanaka, 2006). This leads to the first topic of our meeting: natural and induced pluripotency...