A genome-wide RNAi screen identifies determinants of human embryonic stem cells.
Chia, Na Yu.
Date of Issue2012
School of Biological Sciences
The derivation of human embryonic cells (hESCs) from human blastocysts represents one of the milestones in stem cell biology. Exploitation of the full potential of hESCs for research and clinical applications will require a detailed understanding of the genetic network that underlies the unique properties of hESCs. hESCs are pluripotent where they have the capacity to differentiate into all derivatives of the three primary germ layers: ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. In addition, these cells are able to self-renew continuously. Pluripotent stem cells offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injury, burns, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Although hESCs are thought to offer potential cures and therapies for many devastating diseases, research using them is still in its early stages and the safety for the use of hESCs is a major concern. For instance, only fully differentiated progenies of hESCs that are devoid of undifferentiated hESCs could be used for cell replacement, otherwise, side-effects such as teratomas formation may ensue.