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Stem Cells

Author(s): Joseph G. Marx, Ph.D

Adult Stem Cells

Recently, scientists have discovered cells in various parts of the human body (skeletal muscle, brain, liver, retina, etc.) that seem to exhibit many properties of blastocyst-derived stem cells. These cells are called "adult stem cells" or "somatic stem cells." Adult stem cells are rare and dispersed throughout the body. Like all stem cells, they have the long-term ability to make identical copies of themselves and to produce differentiated mature cells.

While much is being learned, important questions remain about adult stem cells. Where are they found in the body and how many kinds exist? Can they be manipulated to grow, and do they normally exhibit the ability to generate cells of all tissue types? Can they access all of the DNA within their nuclei?