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Applying specific growth factors to h ES cells allows the generation of cardiomyocytes for use in cell replacement therapies (Winkler et al., 2004).
In 1998 the first h ES cell lines were derived by Thomson et al.
from the ICM of surplus human embryos resulting from assisted reproductive procedures (Young and Carpenter, 2006).
Tissue engineering requires cells that are easily isolated, sufficient in number, and have a defined and controlled phenotype; h ES cells are one of the most promising candidates (Cohen et al., 2006).
It is hoped that embryonic derived cardiomyocytes will be effective in treating disorders such a myocardial infarction.
The undifferentiated cells are then plated onto new culture dishes.
Successful propagation of the ICM is associated with the appearance of cells with undifferentiated h ES cell morphology (Sartipy et al., 2007).
The human embryonic stem (h ES) cell is characterised as the most plastic stem cell, capable of differentiating into any cell type. This means they are able to differentiate into all the germ layers; ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm.
This would achieve the true transdifferentiation that adult stem cells cannot.
The most researched stem cell is the adult stem cell, but these cells, except in the treatment of leukaemia, do not often lead to true transdifferentation when used clinically.
Much research is still to needed to prove their efficacy in treating other diseases, including heart defects for example.