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Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos.
Biology Articles » Biotechnology » Generating embryonic stem cells » Identification of embryonic stem cells
At various points during the process of generating embryonic stem cell lines, scientists test the cells to see whether they exhibit the fundamental properties that make them embryonic stem cells. This process is called characterization.
As yet, scientists who study human embryonic stem cells have not agreed on a standard battery of tests that measure the cells' fundamental properties. Also, scientists acknowledge that many of the tests they do use may not be good indicators of the cells' most important biological properties and functions. Nevertheless, laboratories that grow human embryonic stem cell lines use several kinds of tests. These tests include:
Testing whether the human embryonic stem cells are pluripotent by 1) allowing the cells to differentiate spontaneously in cell culture; 2) manipulating the cells so they will differentiate to form specific cell types; or 3) injecting the cells into an immunosuppressed mouse to test for the formation of a benign tumor called a teratoma. Teratomas typically contain a mixture of many differentiated or partly differentiated cell types—an indication that the embryonic stem cells is capable of differentiating into multiple cell types.
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