Investigators have found that a novel type of pluripotent stem cell whose identity is tied to its location in a developing embryo, rather than a time-related stage of development, can be efficiently cloned and cultured and its genome edited with relative ease (Wu J et al. Nature. 2015;521:316-321). As such, these region-selective pluripotent stem cells (rsPSCs) may be especially useful for regenerative medicine applications.
To derive the cells, a team led by scientists at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, applied chemical signals to human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in vitro that directed the cells to take on a spatially polarized pluripotency. When the resulting rsPSCs were grafted into the posterior region of epiblasts of nonviable mouse embryos, the cells began to differentiate into the 3 major cell layers, the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. Conventional embryonic stem cells could not efficiently integrate and proliferate in this way.
Hampton T. Researchers Uncover Novel Spatially Defined Stem Cells. JAMA. 2015;314(1):16. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6691