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Biomarker could help scientists choose the right cell line when conducting stem cell experiments
Date:6/4/2013

BOSTON, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, stem cells that strongly express a gene called WNT3 are biased to develop into cells and tissues including pancreas, liver and bladder. This discovery suggests that other genes may serve as biomarkers for selecting stem cells with a preference for turning into different tissue types. Such markers would make it easier for stem cell scientists to choose the right cell line to start with when generating specific tissues for study.

The researchers, led by Wei Jiang , Ph.D., and Yi Zhang, Ph.D., of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's, published their findings June 6 in the inaugural issue of the journal Stem Cell Reports.

All human embryonic (hESC) and induced pluripotent (iPSC) cell lines can develop or differentiate into any kind of cell or tissue in the body. However, differentiation potential—the ability to develop into particular cell types—is not equal across all hESC and iPSC lines. Rather, each line is biased to develop into one of the three major tissue lineages: endoderm (e.g., digestive tract, liver, pancreas), mesoderm (e.g., cartilage, circulatory system, kidneys) and ectoderm (e.g., cornea, nervous system, teeth).

That bias can significantly impact stem cell studies.

"If you want to differentiate stem cells into pancreas cells, for instance, you want to start with a line with a high differentiation potential for endoderm," says Zhang. "It's like athletes and sports. Some athletes are built for football, some for baseball, some for swimming. Every cell line has its own strengths, and the challenge is k
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SOURCE Boston Children's Hospital
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