Stem cells are defined by their potential to self-renew and differentiate into more specialized cell types within a given tissue. Stem cells can be found in the embryo and in adult tissue and are termed embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, respectively. Embryonic stem cells are responsible for the development of an entire organism, whereas adult stem cells provide a mechanism for maintenance of tissue homeostasis by replacing damaged cells throughout the life of the organism. Stem cell biology has provided a platform for addressing important scientific questions in the areas of development, repair/regeneration, and disease. Here, we discuss some basic concepts regarding stem cells, including definitions of commonly used terminology and the current status of the stem cell field. A glossary of terms defined in this chapter is given in Table 16.1 (Table 16.1).
KeywordsStem Cell Embryonic Stem Cell Cancer Stem Cell Adult Stem Cell Embryonic Stem Cell Research