Stem cells: an overview of therapeutic approaches
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The complexity of life exhibited in humans and other living creatures has drawn many to investigate the principles associated with organismal growth and development. A few broad questions: How do tissues develop into specified organs? How are these tissues maintained? Do they become different tissues? Scientific research has incessantly been seeking answers to these as well as a plethora of other questions. While on a quest to better understand developmental biology, investigators discovered unique populations of stem cells within a variety of tissues, which retain both varying degrees of developmental plasticity and their potential for self-regeneration. This thesis provides a brief review discussing the development and history of stem cells in medicine and associated research on these cells and their potential clinical applications. Substantial attention has been paid to pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) which are able to be recapitulate ESC properties through the in vitro reprogramming of somatic cells. While, the ethical and legal issues have greatly hindered the use of ESCs this has made the benefit of iPSCs so great. An interconnected network of pluripotency-associated genes, integrates external signals and exerts control to maintain the state of pluripotency. Recent research has proven the pluripotency regulatory network to be flexible such that the underlying principles promise unprecedented opportunities for scientific study and regenerative medicine. Additional topics reviewed here include vast clinical applications of stem cells as well as their notable limitations.