Pluripotent Stem Cells can be divided into Embryonic Stem Cells, Embryonal Carcinoma Stem Cells and induced-Pluripotent Stem Cells. Read here a little bit about the Embryonic and induced Stem Cells!
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Embryonic Stem (ES) Cells
ES cells are derived from blastocysts.
After a careful adaptation period they are able to be cultivated in vitro.
ES cells have the potential to differentiate into any cell type of an organism, i.e. neurons, fibroblasts, hepatocytes, cardiomyocytes, lymphocytes. The only exceptions are the extraembryonic tissues (placenta, among others), that cannot be formed from ES cells.
Nowadays, ES cells contribute to advances in diverse knowledge areas such as Developmental Biology, tissue regeneration, drug screening.
ES cells have been derived from numerous organisms, such as mice, primates and humans.
induced-Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells
figure adapted from Janet Rossant, Nature, 2007
iPS cells are generated from somatic cells exposed to one of the available reprograming techniques capable of taking these cells back to the pluripotent state.
One of the most commonly used reprogramming technique consists of introducing specific transcription factors in somatic cells. After being transfected with a combination of three to four such factors, the somatic cells which express them start reprogramming until some of them reach the pluripotent state.
Many studies concerning differences and similarities between ES and iPS cells are being developed in order to understand pluripotency and to assess reprogramed cells safety as possible future cells for regenerative medicine.
Generation of pluripotent cells from any cell type opens a large field for research on many areas of knowledge, specially in human Biology.