Unlocking the potential of stem cells to repair and nurture our tissues could be a matter of guiding them in the right direction. The green-coloured cells pictured were once mouse embryonic stem cells. Grown in a laboratory dish, they were bathed in a mixture of chemicals, which triggered their transformation into neuromesodermal progenitors (NMPs) – specialist cells with the potential to become part of the developing nervous system, or even the bone, cartilage and muscle tissue that surrounds it. These pictures show the results of transplanting NMPs back into mouse embryos (with their cells stained blue). Transplanted cells (green) have successfully integrated into part of the early nervous system, the neural tube (stained red). Using chemical signals to guide the specialisation of stem cells prior to transplantation may help to treat developmental disorders, combat many diseases and even to slow down ageing – huge potential in more ways than one.
Written by John Ankers
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