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Could stem cells be the cells' default state?

Date:
April 12, 2012
Source:
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Summary:
In spite of considerable research efforts around the world, we still do not know the determining factors that confer stem cells their main particular features: capacity to self-renew and to divide and proliferate. Scientists now ask if perhaps we have the wrong approach.

In spite of considerable research efforts around the world, we still do not know the determining factors that confer stem cells their main particular features: capacity to self-renew and to divide and proliferate. The scientist Jordi Casanova, head of the "Morphogenesis in Drosophila" lab at IRB Barcelona and CSIC research professor, proposes in an article in the journal Embo Reports that we may be working from the wrong angle.

Casanova's notion is that stem cells emerge not because of the presence of factors that confer capacity to the stem cell but because of factors that repress the cellular signals for differentiation and specialization. Casanova believes that somehow all non-differentiated cells intrinsically carry the qualities of the stem cell by default and that there are factors at work that remove these capacities.

Said another way: a stem cell is a stem cell because it has evaded differentiation. According to Casanova, if the idea of "a stem cell by default" is considered, research should focus not on what a cell requires to become a stem cell but what it must escape from.

To support his notion, Jordi Casanova analyzes from this new perspective the properties and characteristics currently known about stem cells and tests whether they generally fit the hypothesis. The author of this article hopes that this new angle stimulates research in the international scientific community working on stem cells and cell differentiation in order to confirm or reject the hypothesis.

The generation of new knowledge in this field is of enormous interest given the potential of therapeutic applications based on stem cells.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jordi Casanova. Stemness as a cell default state. EMBO reports, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/embor.2012.47

Cite This Page:

Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). "Could stem cells be the cells' default state?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412105828.htm>.
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). (2012, April 12). Could stem cells be the cells' default state?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412105828.htm
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). "Could stem cells be the cells' default state?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412105828.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

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