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Stem cells' electric abilities might help their safe clinical use

uman ESCs were never studied up to this point."

In the current study, the researchers measured the electric currents of single human ESCs, discovered several channels that allow and control passage of potassium, and observed the electric current's effect on cell differentiation and proliferation.

"In a number of different cell types, from cancer to T-lymphocytes, potassium channels are responsible for altering the membrane voltage of cells," says Li. "This in turn is required for the progression of certain cells into the next phase of a cell cycle."

Li hopes the targeting of specific potassium channels will give scientists more understanding and control in engineering healthy cells for transplantation.

"We found that blocking potassium channels in ESCs also slowed their growth," says Li. "Our findings may lead to genetic strategies that suppress undesirable cell division after transplantation, not only for ESCs and their derivatives, but perhaps for adult stem cells as well." Li adds that much more work is necessary to know for sure.


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Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


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