Mastering Stem Cells
Molecular Biologist Peggy Goodell:
Unveiling Stem Cell Genetics
Goodell Examines Stem Cells
Molecular biologist Goodell wants to improve health with stem cells
Start out as "generic" cells
Come in 2 varieties: embryonic and adult
Can all stem cells make any kind of cell?
Adult stem cells are already specialized
Differentiated: Adult stem cells in skin can only make skin cells, and adult stem cells in blood can only become blood cells, for example
Undifferentiated: Embryonic stem cells are blank slates that can make any kind of cell (skin, blood, or nerve, for instance)
Human embryonic stem cells (HESC) can make 220 different cells
HESC can be used to
Study normal human cells
Understand the causes of birth defects
Test drug safety and effectiveness
Image: Jeff Miller
Stem cell colony
Hematopoetic stem cells (HSC)
Adult stem cells that manufacture all blood cells (red and white)
Found mostly in bone marrow
Replenish sick and dying blood cells
Addressing a Challenge
Background: Patients get bone marrow transplants (containing less than 1% HSC) to produce healthy blood cells. More HSC would make bone marrow transplants safer.
Problem: Bone marrow doesn't contain a dense concentration of HSC.
Challenge: Get HSC to make more of itself.
Mastering HSC Production
Image: Kuan Lin
Adult stem cells (HSC)
Student Researcher: Solving Pieces of the HSC Puzzle
MD/PhD student in Goodell's lab
Studies an HSC gene with at least 2 functions
Helping HSC divide
Triggering immune response to bacteria
Image: Allan Weksberg
What are some of the possible medical outcomes of stem cell research?