Science Questions

Where do you get stem cells from?

Tue, 29th Jan 2013

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show New Brain Cells, Anyone?


Emily Caesar asked:

Where do you get stem cells from?


Hannah - Sticking with the theme of the birth of brain cells, I visited the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge to quiz Professor Andrea Brand with questions from listeners about the use of stem cells (the cells which give rise to the new nerve cells in the brain).  

And the first question was from Emily Caesar via Facebook asking,

“Where do you get stem cells from?”  

So, there is the new technology of creating stem cells and neural stem cells are created throughout life in the hippocampus brain region of rats and humans.  But how else can we get stem cells?

Andrea -   There are stem cells in different animals and in different places in different animals.  So, for example in my lab, we work on stem cells in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and in particular, we work on stem cells that are found in the brain.  And in this case of course, we don’t have to invade a patient or use an embryo.  We can just take fruit fly embryos or fruit fly adults, and isolate stem cells from them and study what it is that makes the stem cells special.



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