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Searching for stem cells
09 January 2009
Scientists have linked different technologies to locate stem cell reservoirs in tissue.
During pregnancy the mammary gland goes through changes which suggest the tissue contains a reservoir of undifferentiated cells - cells that can convert into more specialised types. 'The question is: where are these stem cells located?' asks Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US, who led the team behind the research.
Label retaining cells form small, non-random clusters in large mammary ducts
The researchers from the US and Spain built a computational microscopy platform that integrates image acquisition, storage, processing and allows them to analyse images of cells in tissue statistically. This approach makes it possible to look at cell populations at different scales - from the whole organ to tissue details and the single cell - which the researchers hope will allow them to understand how cells are affected by different microenvironments within the same tissue.
- Jeffrey Rosen
Jeffrey Rosen is an expert in mammary gland biology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, US, and welcomes the research. 'Being able to identify and localise label-retaining cells using a computational microscopy platform represents a major advance in the field,' he says. 'This important new approach should help in identifying and characterising the mammary stem cell niche in the three dimensional context of the mammary gland.'
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Link to journal article
Mapping mammary gland architecture using multi-scale in situ analysis
Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez, Irineu Illa-Bochaca, Bryan E. Welm, Markus C. Fleisch, Zena Werb, Carlos Ortiz-de-Solorzano and Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff, Integr. Biol., 2009, 1, 80
Also of interest
Studies reveal what makes stem cells change and how to make them stay the same