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Transfus Med. 2008 Feb;18(1):1-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3148.2007.00807.x.

Human embryonic stem cells: origins, characteristics and potential for regenerative therapy.

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Experimental Haematology, University of Glasgow and Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, ATMU, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, G31 2ER, UK.


Stem cells and their use in regenerative therapies are currently hot topics in both biology and medicine. For transfusion scientists the concept of cell therapy is not a new idea but rather a fundamental practice in this field. Bone marrow transplantation was pioneered in the 1960s and relies on the capacity of haemopoietic stem cells in the donated bone marrow to completely reconstitute the blood system of the recipient. Although this capacity of adult (or somatic) stem cells to regenerate the tissue from which they arise is extremely important, the isolation and cultivation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have opened up the possibility to generate any cell or tissue of the body. This characteristic of hESC offers the hope of cell replacement and regenerative therapy for a whole array of diseases, many of which are currently untreatable. However, in order to understand the potential advantages and disadvantages of using stem cells in regenerative medicine, it is necessary to fully understand their origin, characteristics and potential. This review will concentrate particularly on hESCs and their derivation, characterization and capacity to differentiate into clinically useful tissue including haemopoietic lineages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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