Use of embryonic stem cells in research has been hotly debated for several years. This animation presents the basics on how stem cell lines are established. For more information on how techniques similar to this are used in research, visit DNA from the Beginning and explore Concept 41: DNA is only the beginning for understanding the human genome.
This animation is also available as INTERACTIVE MEDIA .
Embryonic stem cells are derived from blastocysts — embryos that are about a week old. At this stage, the blastocyst has about 100 cells. Human blastocysts like this have been donated to research from in vitro fertilization clinics.
In order to get embryonic stem cell lines, scientists remove cells from the inner cell mass region. These cells have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body. Once the cells are removed, they are placed on a culture plate with nutrients and growth factors. The blastocyst is destroyed in this process.
An embryonic cell line is established when these cells multiply and divide. Under the right conditions, these cell lines can be maintained indefinitely. By adding different growth factors, it is possible to induce these embryonic stem cells into developing into different cell types. These cells could someday be used in therapies to replace damaged cells and organs.
embryonic stem cells, blastocyst, inner cell mass
Mario Capecchi talks about manipulating embryonic stem (ES) cells to make specific mutations in mouse embryos.
Professor David Anderson describes the types and properties of different stem cells. The most well known, embryonic stem cells, are the most flexible.
Professor Fred Gage defines the key features of stem cells, which include self-renewal and the ability to give rise to another cell.
Mario Capecchi describes proteomics; the large-scale study of protein structure and function. Brian Sauer explains gene knock outs.
This method uses homologous recombination to disable a gene of interest to produce a genetic knockout.
Experiment with gene knock outs.
Mario Capecchi talks about the possible use of embryonic stem cells and gene targeting techniques to develop new therapies for for diabetes and Parkinson's.
Professor Ronald McKay discusses how he identified stem cells, and how they can explain the fundamental molecular processes of the nervous system.
Explore the reverse transcriptase mechanism.