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Lab Reports
July 7, 2015

Researchers Uncover Novel Spatially Defined Stem Cells

JAMA. 2015;314(1):16. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6691

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[7552]: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.