In this blog, Vanessa De Mello (Hippo pathway enthusiast and PhD student in the Musculoskeletal group, University of Aberdeen) explores the names behind signalling pathways that control stem cells.
During growth and development the cells that make up our body need to be precisely controlled. If a ‘stop signal’ is constantly given cells will not grow and divide. But if the lights are continually green, too many cells will grow leading to problems like cancer. It is the ‘developmental signalling pathways’ that control this and give our cells instructions on when to grow, divide, or die.
Scientists have successfully ‘reset’ human pluripotent stem cells to the earliest developmental state – equivalent to cells found in an embryo before it implants in the womb (7-9 days old). These ‘pristine’ stem cells may mark the true starting point for human development, but have until now been impossible to replicate in the lab.
Yoshiki Sasai was a visionary scientist who pioneered research at the interface between developmental biology and stem cell biology, contributing major discoveries to both fields and sowing the seeds for applications in regenerative medicine.