Human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) differentiating on a fibroblast matrix in culture, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Note the 2 cells appear neuron-like in cell morphology with numerous dendrite-like processes. HESCs are pluripotent cells that can differentiate into any of the 200 cell types of the human body depending on the type of biochemical growth signals they receive. ESCs are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst (an early stage of the human embryo). Pluripotent stem cells are capable of self-renewal (perpetual cell division), can be cultivated in the undifferentiated state, and can be induced to differentiate in vitro into all different types of cells of the adult organism. HESCs are being studied as a way to repair damaged tissue in diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's or to generate differentiated cells, tissues and organs for transplantation. Magnification: x260 when shortest shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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