Q2. What are stem cells and what research is being done on them?
Stem cells are special cells found in very early stage embryos (i.e., 5 days after fertilization of an egg) and in some types of adult tissue.
Stem cells are "undifferentiated" cells (sometimes referred to as "pluripotent"), which means:
- they have not yet developed into a particular type of cell that performs a specialized function (e.g., skin, heart, or nerve cells); and
- they can, under circumstances, develop into many different types of cells.
Stem cell research promises to allow these undifferentiated stem cells to be stimulated to develop into various types of specialized cells or tissue.
The molecular processes discovered in working with stem cells derived from SCNT will be extremely valuable in finding ways to increase the utility and versatility of adult stem cells.