Stem cell research provides a useful tool for unraveling the molecular mechanisms that determine the differentiation fate of a pluripotent cell and for understanding the gene expression properties and epigenetic modifications essential to maintain the pluripotent state. In the future, this knowledge may be used to generate cells for transplantation therapies, whereby a specific cell population compromised by disease is replaced with new, functional cells. Differentiated derivatives of human pluripotent cells may also prove to be useful as models for understanding the biology of disease and developing new drugs, particularly when there is no animal model for the disease being studied. The greatest promise of stem cell research may lie in an area not yet imagined.
To download a full-size version of this image for either Web or print use, right-click on the appropriate link below and choose to save the picture to your computer. Please include the notice "©2008 Terese Winslow."