Stem cell research: updates and commentary on research findings

Research spotlights

Scientific research papers, summarized for non-scientists.

Direct reprogramming: another way of making human neurons

Direct reprogramming of cells (also called direct cell-fate conversion) is where one fully differentiated cell type changes directly into another. In the past, researchers thought this was impossible, especially for generating human neurons.  Now it has been shown to be not only possible, but also potentially simpler than other methods of creating neurons, such as creating induced pluripotent (iPS) cells to be subsequently differentiated into neurons.

Capturing the primordial human stem cells in the lab

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a method to “reset” human embryonic stem cells to an earlier developmental stage, producing a type of stem cell up to now only seen in rodents.

Using time-lapse imagery to take a closer look at human embryonic stem cells

Time-lapse imaging and tracking of single human embryonic stem cells has allowed researchers to zoom in and take a closer look at the behaviour of these special cells. Researchers from the University of Sheffield have identified multiple bottlenecks that restrict the growth of these cells in the laboratory, and observed complex and diverse behaviour as the cells move around the culture dish and interact with their neighbours. These findings will help researchers design the best conditions to safely and efficiently grow human embryonic stem cells in the laboratory.