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Lecture 16

Introduction to stem cells

Outline of lecture 16

 What is stem cells

 What are the different types of stem cells
 Fertilization and embryonic development
 What makes stem cells unique?
 How do we culture stem cells?
 What are examples of future stem cell therapies?
 Conclusion and future directions
What are stem cells?

• the body is made up of about 200 different kinds of specialised cells such as muscle cells,
nerve cells, fat cells and skin cells
• all cells in the body come from stem cells
• a stem cell is a cell that is not yet specialised
• the process of specialisation is called differentiation
• once the differentiation pathway of a stem cell has been decided, it can no longer become
another type of cell on its own
Why are stem cells special?
Stem cells can:
• self-renew to make more
stem cells
• differentiate into a
specialised cell type

Stem cells that can become many Stem cells that can become
types of cells in the body are only a few types of cells are
called pluripotent called multipotent

Embryonic stem cells (pluripotent) Tissue stem cells (multipotent)

This cell
Can form the
Embryo and placenta

This cell
Can form the

Fully mature
Tissue stem cells
• often known as adult stem cells
• also includes stem cells isolated from fetal and cord blood
• reside in most tissues of the body where they are involved
in repair and replacement

Bone marrow Kidney Lung

• generally very difficult to isolate

• already used to treat patients (haematological malignancies,
diseases of the immune system)
Where do embryonic stem cells
come from?
• Donated excess IVF embryos Inner cell mass

egg fertilised 2-cell 8-cell blastocyst


Day 0 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 6

Images from

Embryonic stem cells
 derived from donated IVF
 can be grown indefinitely in
the laboratory in an
unspecialised state
 retain ability to specialise into
many different tissue types –
know as pluripotent
human embryonic stem cells
 can restore function in animal
models following

Human embryonic stem cells can become any

cell in the body including these beating heart
Induced pluripotent stem cells
Starting cells from
donor tissue
 derived from adult cells in
2007 - very recent discovery!
 can be grown indefinitely in
culture in an undifferentiated
Induced change in
gene expression  similar properties to
embryonic stem cells as can
iPS Cells
differentiate into many
different tissue types –
 can create stem cells directly
from a patient for research
stem cells
Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells
Genetically engineering new stem cells

Skin cells iPS cells

Day 1

In the IVF procedure, sperm and eggs “interact” in a dish leading to insemination.
They literally swim up to the egg and burrow toward the nucleus.
The first one to get there wins, and all others are blocked out.

Male fertility issue: Sometimes sperm cannot latch onto and penetrate the egg.
They may choose to have Intra(within)-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Day 1
Day 1
Day 2
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
What makes stem cells unique?
Symmetric cell division
Asymmetric cell division
1. Self-renews
2. Differentiates

Progenitor cell

Stem cell Stem cell

Signals to Stem Cells

Matrix Molecules

Soluble Factors

Other Cells Differentiation

Little, et al. Chemical Reviews (2008).

Embryonic stem cells in the dish:
How do we culture ES cells?
Culture methods



7.0 - Neutral

pH 6.8 – slightly acidic 8.4 – slightly basic

Fluorescent imaging of embryonic
stem cell colonies.
What are examples of future stem cell therapies?

Spinal cord injury:

Example of embryonic stem cell-based therapy

Stem cells for drug delivery
More focused delivery, fewer side affects
Day 0 Day 7 Day 14

(no tumor)


Shah et al. Dev Neurosci 2004

Conclusion and future directions
Why do researchers want to use
embryonic stem cells along with other
 Pluripotent
 Expanded developmental potential allows them
to be used in ways that adult stem cells cannot
 Can proliferate indefinitely in culture
 Easier to obtain than adult stem cells
Science is discovering the unknown
 Stem cell field is still in its infancy
 Human embryonic stem cell research is a decade old, adult stem cell research
has 30-year head start
 Holds hope for curing or improving treatments for
70+ diseases
Assignment 2

1. What are stem cells, why are they important?

2. What are the unique properties of all stem cells?
3. What are embryonic stem cells?
4. What are adult stem cells?
5. What are the similarities and differences between embryonic and adult stem cells?
6. What are induced pluripotent stem cells?
7. What are the potential uses of human stem cells and the obstacles that must be
overcome before these potential uses will be realized?

Deadline submission: 25/12/2017

Individual assignment
Assignment 3 Test 2
 Group 1  Date: 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm
IVF/IVM embryo production  Structure & essay
 Cover all topics from lecture 1 - 17
 Group 2
Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection

Date: 25/ 12/2017

Time: 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm