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pluripotent are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state by being forced to express genes and factors important for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic stem cells. Although these cells meet the defining criteria for pluripotent stem cells, it is not known if iPSCs and embryonic stem cells differ in clinically significant ways
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The concept of stem cells can seem a complicated one and you may have seen foreign words such as 'pluripotent' written in magazines or discussed on television. Stem cells describe all of the cells that can give rise to the different cells found in tissues. There are however, different types of stem cells. One such type is a pluripotent stem cell.Pluripotent stem cells are often termed 'true' stem cells because they have the potential to differentiate into almost any cell in the body. This means that under the right circumstances, a stem cell that is isolated from an embryo can produce almost all of the cells in the body. Yet after this embryonic development stage is over, the stem cells no longer have this unlimited potential to develop into all cell types. Their pluripotency is thus lost and they can only become certain types of cells.To understand how a cell becomes pluripotent, it helps to consider the human body in the very early stages of development. After an egg is fertilised by a sperm, a single cell results. This cell - the fertilised egg that is totipotent - has the potential to create an entire organism. In the initial hours and days following fertilisation, this single totipotent cell divides into more totipotent cells that are exact copies of the original.Approximately four days after fertilisation, the totipotent cells start to specialise and form a cluster of cells known as a blastocyst. The blastocyst has yet another smaller group of cells known as the inner cell mass and it is these inner pluripotent stem cells that will go on to create most of the cells and tissues in the human body. These pluripotent stem cells are therefore different than totipotent stem cells because they don't develop into a complete organism. As such, a pluripotent cell won't give rise to the placenta or other tissues that are vital for foetal development. It will still develop into the other specialised cell types in the human body, such as nerve or heart cells.You may have also heard the term 'stem cell line.' Stem cells from embryos can be used to create these pluripotent stem cell 'lines,' which are grown in the laboratory or cultured from foetal tissue.There are several key types of pluripotent stem cells:Embryonic stem cells are isolated from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst. The embryos are excess ones produced from in vitro fertilisation, but the practice is still controversial because it does destroy the embryo, which could have been implanted to create a baby.Embryonic germ cells are taken from aborted foetuses and these pluripotent cells are derived from very early cells. These early cells are those that can become sperm and eggs.Embryonic carcinoma or cancer cells are isolated from a type of tumour that sometimes occurs in a foetus