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From Human Embryos to Clinically Compliant Embryonic Stem Cells: Blastocyst Culture, Xeno-free Derivation and Cryopreservation, Properties and Applications of Embryonic Stem Cells
Ariff Bongso*, Mark Richards and Chui-Yee Fong
The isolation of stem cells from human preimplantation embryos has been considered the biggest breakthrough of the 21st century. These mysterious cells aptly referred to as the "mother of all cells" hold promise in a new era of reparative medicine by providing an unlimited supply of different tissue types suitable for transplantation therapy (Fig. 1). Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be isolated from: i) surplus embryos left over after in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment1-3; ii) embryos created specifically for this purpose4; and iii) from embryos created by somatic cell nuclear transfer.5 The latter two approaches are heavily charged with emotional and ethical implications while the first is less controversial. However, hESC research leading to prospective cures for a variety of incurable diseases has the potential to affect the lives of millions of people around the world, not through the prolongation of life but more through the improvement of the quality of life. Two major hurdles fundamental to hESC biology have to be overcome before purified hESC directed cells are used in clinical therapy, viz., a) hESC culture technology in vitro must be safe with
* Correspondence: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore 119074. Tel: 65-67724260, fax: 65-67794753, e-mail: [email protected]
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