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The small beginnings of gastruloids

Posted by on April 1st, 2015

Mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) are by definition cells that can self-renew (make identical copies of themselves) and specialize into any cell type of the body. Since their discovery, scientists have used them to produce various specialized cell types in culture but also to produce transgenic mouse lines. When injected into a mouse early embryo,[…]

Stem cells…now showing in 3D

Posted by on January 22nd, 2015

    Growing organs in vitro is one of the ultimate dreams of any stem cell biologist. As such, it seems obvious that some of these organs will need to be grown in 3D. This is why stem cell 3D culture systems are very fashionable among scientists. They are increasingly successful and a fair amount[…]

Seeing cells from a different angle

Posted by on December 7th, 2014

Thanks to microscopy, scientists can compete with the most talented photographers and take the most astonishing pictures! Although I have been focusing on microscopy pictures in this blog, microscopy is not the only way to make pretty pictures of cells. In recent years, the rapid progress in sequencing technology has propelled this technique to the[…]

Biology and maths partner to understand life decisions

Posted by on October 26th, 2014

Starting with the one fertilized egg that we all once were, embryonic development is made of cell divisions and most importantly of cell decisions. These first life decisions are the first steps of the development of various cell types, which will further divide, decide, specialize, organize, form specialized organs and ultimately an entire very complex[…]

The origin of blood

Posted by on September 4th, 2014

As for the origin of species, the question of the origin of blood during development has unleashed a lot of passion among the scientific community. As a matter of fact, the failure to derive blood stem cells (haematopoietic stem cells, HSCs) from pluripotent stem cells (stem cells that can generate any type of cells) has[…]

Challenging an old stem cell dogma

Posted by on August 4th, 2014

Science teachers usually say that science progresses by challenging old dogmas. In the stem cell field, there is a dogma saying that some blood stem cells in the bone marrow stay quiescent (do not divide) for long periods of time. This way, they avoid DNA damage and malignant mutations that could arise during DNA replication[…]

It’s decision time!

Posted by on May 27th, 2014

Decisions, decisions…aren’t those one of our main worries? It is certainly the everyday worry of a stem cell! Understanding stem cell decisions is a central question in the field: how do stem cells manage to keep the right balance between self-renewal (make identical copies of themselves) and differentiation (produce specialized cells)? How do stem cells[…]

A simple step to reverse ageing

Posted by on May 3rd, 2014

How great would it be if we knew how to reverse ageing and turn old organs into young ones? Actually, this might not be as crazy as it sounds. As a matter of fact, a team of scientists managed to regenerate the thymus in old mice and observe what closely resembles the juvenile thymus! The[…]

Decoding reprogramming

Posted by on February 28th, 2014

When it comes to stem cell biology, there have been very few topics as fascinating and popular as cell reprogramming, the most famous reprogramming experiment being the one of Dolly the sheep. In stem cell biology, reprogramming refers to the concept of taking a fully specialized cell in the body and manipulating it in order[…]

Cancer stem cells: quite beautiful, mainly scary…

Posted by on January 31st, 2014

Of all the types of stem cells, there is a kind than can be a lot more scary than beautiful: the cancer stem cell. Although the concept of cancer stem cell is still controversial among the scientific community, it is of great medical interest to further understand these cells so that we develop better strategies[…]