A new method for classifying stem cells should help researchers distinguish one stem cell type from the next.
There are many types of 'stem cell' all bound under the same umbrella term by their ability to self renew and differentiate into other more specialized cell types. However, they occur in different parts of the body at different times of life, and various methods are used to isolate them; alongside a paucity of reliable markers, this makes their classification difficult.
The new technique, devised by Jeanne Loring and colleagues, is based on a database of transcriptional profiles. In Nature, they show how it can be used to classify reliably a variety of human stem cell types including embryonic, neural and induced pluripotent stem cells.
The technique is timely given the anticipated value of human stem cells to regenerative medicine, and the team hopes that their method will serve as a useful tool for characterization and classification.
Jeanne Loring (The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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