Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. Most embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro—in an in vitro fertilization clinic—and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman’s body.

There are many ways in which human stem cells can be used in research and the clinic. Studies of human embryonic stem cells will yield information about the complex events that occur during human development. A primary goal of this work is to identify how undifferentiated stem cells become the differentiated cells that form the tissues and organs. (from stemcells.nih.gov)

A magnified view of human embryonic stem cells.

Image by Melanie Ivancic, Joseph Klim, and Laura Kiessling, Dept of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison. (link)

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