Stem Cells: Characterization and Biomedical Importance Essay example

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Over the past decade, stem cell biology has been an area that has caused much controversy. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into many different types of cells and therefore, advocates of stem cell research argue that the cells have various medical applications. On the other hand, opponents of stem cell research denounce the use of human embryos for research purposes, claiming that the embryos represent human lives and that experimentation with them and subsequent annihilation of them is the same as killing a living human being. Nevertheless, the potential uses for stem cells are endless and stem cells have the ability to completely change modern medical practices.

Human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) are characterized by …show more content…

Prior to 2001, the primary method used to isolate embryonic stem cell lines was to identify and segregate single colonies under a dissecting microscope. However, this process was time-consuming and costly and served to inhibit stem cell research. A new method has been developed that involves introducing a reporter gene into the embryonic stem cells and separating stem cell lines due to the gene's effects (Eiges et al. 2001).

The human embryonic stem cells were first transfected with enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP), under the control of the murine Rex-1 promoter. The cells with EGFP demonstrated high levels of GFP expression when in the undifferentiated state and therefore showed high levels of fluorescence. As the cells differentiated, the levels of GFP expression decrease along with the degree of fluorescence. The undifferentiated cells were then isolated from the culture using a Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter (FACS) (Eiges et al. 2001).

Furthermore, the pluripotent nature of the human embryonic stem cells was verified due to the results obtained using this new method. Since the fluorescence of the stem cells changed in some cases, it was clear that the human embryonic stem cells had differentiated. In addition, the ability of the stem cells to form embryoid bodies (EBs), Irregularly shaped clumps of cellular structures that contain tissue from all three of the

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