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Stem cell biology

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1. What is the difference between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells?

Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the embryos. They are derived from eggs fertilized in vitro using in vitro fertilization. Embryonic stem cells are not derived from eggs fertilized naturally in a woman's body. When embryonic stem cell line hae proliferated in cell culture for a long time without differentiating, they are pluripotent, and have not developed genetic abnormalities. Embryonic stem cells can be identified by testing if the cell remain undifferentiated. The presence of transcription factors called Nanog and Oct4 are associated with stem cells maintaining an undifferentiated state capable of self-renewal.

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cell that are found among tissue or organ. Adult stem cell can renew itself and can differentiate to yield some major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ. The function of adult stem cell is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found.

The major difference between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells is that they have different abilities in the number and type of differentiated cell types they can become. For example, embryonic stem cells are pluripotent and can become all cell types of the body. Adult stem cells are limited to differentiating into different cell types of their tissue of origin. Adult stem cells are challenging to grow in culture, but embryonic stem cells are easy to culture. Adult stem cells are less likely to initiate rejection after transplantation compared to embryonic stem cells because adult stem cells are derived from the patient's own adult stem cells and would be less likely to be rejected.

2. What are the limitations of embryonic stem ...

Solution Summary

Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the embryos. They are derived from eggs fertilized in vitro using in vitro fertilization. They are useful in regeneration therapy for injured or defective tissues.

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A. Drugs that inhibit microtubule assembly are administered for some medical conditions. What will occur to the cell as a result? For what type of conditions would such a drug be given?

B. Colchicine is a chemical used to treat dividing plant cells to ensure that chromosomes of cells undergoing mitosis will be visible. How does colchicine achieve this effect? What is the natural source of colchicines.

C. Many conditions genetically predispose individuals to develop cancer, but these individuals contain no unusual chromosome(s). Does the lack of a visible chromosome defect make it unlikely that cancers in these individuals are caused by changes in the DNA? Explain your answer

D. How are binary fission and mitosis different? How are they similar?

E. Why do some cells of the human body (for example epithelial cells) continue to divide, yet other cells (e.g., neurons) lose their ability to replicate once they are mature? Describe some of the latest research efforts to induce cell division in nerve cells.

F. About 40 years ago, some researchers reported that they could transfer learning from one animal (Planaria, a type of flatworm) to another by feeding trained animals to untrained animals. Further, they claimed that RNA was the active molecule of learning. Given your knowledge of the roles of RNA and protein in cells, do you think that a specific memory (for example, remembering the base sequences of codons of the genetic code) could be encoded by a specific molecule of RNA and that this RNA could transfer that memory to another person? In other words, someday, could you learn biology by popping an RNA pill? If you could, how would the pill work? If you think the RNA pill wouldn't work, can you propose a reasonable hypothesis for the Planaria results? How would you test your hypothesis?

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