Stem cells are a hot topic. They come up in conversations a lot: from the high hopes we have for the development of new stem cell therapies to the ethics of embryonic stem cell research. We talk about stem cells a great deal, but what exactly are they?
All organisms are composed of one or more cells. Although most living things we see are multicellular (made up of many cells) these are only a small fraction of all organisms on Earth. The vast majority of organisms are unicellular (only one cell), like the bacteria in your gut or the yeast that brew your beer. We humans are multicellular organisms made up of 3 trillion cells with more than 200 different cell types! The cost of this complexity is that when one or more cell types fail to do their job we get sick.
Cell biology seeks to understand how cells work and what happens when something goes wrong in a cell. By identifying what is causing a cell to not do its job, scientists can get a better idea about the inner life of the cell. They can also identify targets for therapies to fix what is wrong with the cell. These articles encompass the study of everything from tiny cellular machines to entire organs.
As we continue researching how life works scientists have begun trying to make simpler and simpler organisms.
Have you ever wondered if we could find a cure for aging? Scientists wonder this all the time. It turns out that we might be able to harness how our own cells defy death, and to help them do this better. By working with an important enzyme called telomerase, scientists are getting closer to these goals. But how does telomerase work, and should we depend on it?
How can cells that are very far apart in the body influence each other? The cells in our multicellular body can control each other from a distance. This article is about a novel form of cell-to-cell communication that involves sending out little packets of information that can ‘reprogram’ the recipient cell, much like the invasion of a body by an alien force. This type of communication, using structures called exosomes,control both communication during health, but also during disease.