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DEV2011: Lecture 31 summary

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Monash University

LECTURE 31 Difference Between Embryonic and Adult Stem Cells: There are significant biological differences between human, embryonic, and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can be isolated from embryos with relative ease and have an unlimited ability to self-renew and proliferate in culture in huge numbers for many generations. Further, they are the only stem cell lines known to be undifferentiated and pluripotent that are available for study. This means that they are more likely to generate a wider range of cell types. Such characteristics, in combination, give embryonic stem cells a remarkably broad therapeutic potential. Yet the availability of human embryos for the production of stem cells is limited and subject to considerable ethical controversy and legal restrictions. Many of the existing stem cell lines are incompletely characterized and may not be robust or stable in their properties. Adult stem cells, in contrast, are found in low numbers in the human body, can be difficult to obtain, do not expand readily in culture, and may be capable of differentiation into only a limited number of cell types. It seems likely that a few known adult stem cells exhibit stem cell plasticity and can differentiate into cell types outside their usual path. Such adult stem cells would need somehow to be isolated, expanded, and then efficiently reprogrammed onto a new pathway of differentiation if they were to be used to treat patients. This extra reprogramming step makes the development of specialized cells from adult stem cells more complicated than from embryonic stem cells. Totipotent: Totipotency is the ability of a single cell to divide and produce all of the differentiated cells in an organism, and example totipotent cells are spores and zygotes. In the spectrum of cell potency, totipotency represents the cell with the greatest differentiation potential. Pluripotent: Pluripotency refers to a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system). Multipotent: Multipotency describes progenitor cells which have the gene activation potential to differentiate int
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