Engineering tissue from human embryonic stem cells

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Recent advances in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) biology now offer an alternative cell source for tissue engineers, as these cells are capable of proliferating indefinitely and differentiating to many clinically relevant cell types. Novel culture methods capable of exerting spatial and temporal control over the stem cell microenvironment allow for more efficient expansion of hESCs, and significant advances have been made toward improving our understanding of the biophysical and biochemical cues that direct stem cell fate choices. Effective production of lineage specific progenitors or terminally differentiated cells enables researchers to incorporate hESC derivatives into engineered tissue constructs. Here, we describe current efforts using hESCs as a cell source for tissue engineering applications, highlighting potential advantages of hESCs over current practices as well as challenges which must be overcome.

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