What Is a Stem Cell Line and What Is Its Significance in Genetic Research?

Understanding what stem cell lines are is an integral part of learning about the new ways that genetics impact the science of regenerative biology, and how it can lead to curing some of the most debilitating ailments known to medicine today. Stem cell lines are the basis of a science that has been around since the early 1980s, when scientists first managed to derive stem cells from mouse embryos. Since then, the study of stem cells has evolved to a great extent, as breakthroughs were made to derive and use human stem cells from embryos and even from adults.

What Are Stem Cell Lines?

A stem cell line is essentially a group of stem cells that is cultured for various purposes using in-vitro methods. Stem cell lines are commonly used in genetic research and regenerative medicine, and they have already led to countless breakthroughs that would not have been possible through the use of any other type of cells. Because of stem cells’ unique ability to renew themselves as they divide, they can essentially multiply to an indefinite extent, which is part of why stem cell lines are so valuable.

Stem Cell Lines and Their Main Purpose

Of course, stem cells don’t multiply like immortalized cell lines that lose their ability to halt their regenerative properties due to mutation. Instead, stem cells, whether they develop in-vitro through stem cell lines, or whether they are used by the body internally to repair or build important elements of itself, propagate as a result of their inherent, natural properties. Stem cell lines retain the stem cells’ original genetic qualities, while still dividing virtually indefinitely. Also, another important property, and one that could lead to major medical breakthroughs, is the fact that stem cells are multipotent, being capable of taking the role of any other specialized cells.

Types of Stem Cell Lines

There are three types of stem cell lines: those cultured from embryos, those derived through adult stem cells and those that are generated as a result of induced stem cell research. Embryonic cells are the easiest to culture, since stem cells are present in abundance in the embryos of any species. In humans, in the case of a 5-day old embryo, these inner cells give rise to the entire cellular diversity of the body. Adult stem cells still exist, despite the fact that the adult body is fully developed. They are used by the body primarily for repairing cellular damage in certain areas, and can also be cultured in-vitro. In the case of induced stem cells, the process is more complex. These are stem cell lines derived from adult somatic, reproductive or pluripotent cell types through the use of artificial genetic reprogramming.

Methods of Culture Used for Stem Cell Lines

There are many different types of culture methods used to grow stem cell lines in a lab, regardless of their origin. One of the first methods involves embryonic stem cells placed on a laboratory culture dish and allowed to multiply in a special broth with the help of mouse skin cells that were treated to prevent division. More advanced methods have done away with the mouse feeder cells, eliminating the risk of viruses infecting the cell line. Today, stem cell lines are typically cultured using special incubators under stable temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius and a steady CO2 level of 5%.