Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have the potential to differentiate into a variety of cell types, which can ultimately be used in tissue engineering and cell replacement therapies. When human ESCs were first isolated, over time they were increasingly difficult to keep alive and manipulate in the lab compared to their mouse counterparts. Researchers experimented with a blend of chemicals known to act in cell development in order to create more co-operative human ESCs, and eventually landed on a mixture of three (dubbed 3i). This chemical combination was found to make human ESCs easier to coax into different cell types that were suitable for transplantation. Pictured from top left to top right are a three-day-old human embryo, a five-day-old human embryo and a colony of 3i-induced human ESCs. The larger colony below is formed from natural human ESCs, which are more mature in their development.
Written by Katie Panteli
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