Stem Cell Gurus

Stem Cell Gurus

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slowing down this week…


Stem Cell Gurus started as a senior thesis project by Biomedical Artist, Megan Kern. It was featured in a week long Bachelors of Fine Art exhibition in Cleveland, Ohio last week. This is the final week before graduation so Megan will be taking one week off to get everything together for final documentation. Photos of the exhibition will be posted periodically throughout the week. Thanks for sticking by us! Keep the questions coming! See you next Monday, May 21st as we continue Stem Cell 101.

Michael Answers Your Questions…


Who do I see about stem cell research?  You can ask me about stem cell research.  You can also participate in stem cell clinical trials by going to and search for open clinical trials for many different diseases.

Do stem cells hurt babies?  No, in fact many baby’s lives have been saved through stem cell research.  Babies have been cured of certain cancers, treated for cerebral palsy, rare bone disorders and more.

Are stem cells genetic engineering or does harvesting make clones? Human reproductive cloning is unethical and would be very difficult to do.  Even in the case of cloning dogs and cats, the success rate is quite low <2%.  Genetic engineering of stem cells is a totally different matter.  A new type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC or iPS cells) were created by taking a normal skin biopsy and integrating 4 genes into it thus resetting the cells biology to act like a pluripotent stem cell, a cell capable of turning into any cell type in the body.  The NCRM has a clinical trial for glioblastoma where the patients blood forming stem cells are genetically engineered to be resistant to a specific type of chemotherapy.  Doing so allows the clinician to give higher doses of chemotherapy and, hopefully, lead to a cure for this disease that normally kills patients in 2 years with current treatments.

Can I become a super hero with stem cells?  Maybe like Wolverine.  Stem cells can heal wounds quicker and with little to no scar tissue.  There are limitations to what they can do but the full potency of stem cells are only just now being explored.  Right now we can grow skin, bones, nerves, fat, muscle and more with stem cells.

How fast do stem cells grow?  Interestingly some grow fast and some grow slow.  Embryonic stem cells grow the quickest with doubling times under 10 hours.  This means if you started out with 100 cells you would have 400 cells in less than 1 day and 1 billion in about 2 weeks – 33 population doublings.  Brain stem cells can go dormant and not grow at all for many years then when damage occurs, wake up and start growing to fix the damage.

How do I get involved with clinical trials?  You can participate in stem cell clinical trials by going to and search for open clinical trials for many different diseases.


Thanks for asking these great questions! Any more questions you have you can contact Michael at or simply click this post and comment in the box to your right!

Featured Guru of the Month


Just in! Meet our first guru of the month! Michael works for the National Center for Regenerative Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He has experience in commercialization and basic science and stem cell research as well as regenerative medicine. For more information about him go to the stem cell center’s website here.

We hear you…


Here are the questions you posted this week that we are considering for our upcoming interview with a local stem cell guru.

Who do I see about stem cell research?
Do stem cells hurt babies?
Are stem cells genetic engineering? And does harvesting make clones?
Can I become a superhero with stem cells?
How fast do stem cells grow?
How do I get involved with clinical trials?

“Skin Gun”


National Geographic Video

National Geographic video shows how a simple idea backed by stem cell research allows victims of severe burns to heal in merely days.

Do You Love Stem Cell Research?


What do you love about stem cell research? Tell us by clicking on the title of this post and commenting! Or post on your Facebook or Twitter!

Embryonic Stem Cells


ESC Poster

Embryonic stem cells are derived from a very early stage embryo known as a “blastocyst” – a cluster of cells that resemble a hollow, microscopic sphere. Unlike adult stem cells, which are restricted to producing limited cell types, embryonic stem cells have the potential to generate every cell type in the body.

The advantages of ESCs are:

Make cell lines

Turn into many tissues  (pluripotency)

No rejection if personalized cell line


Generate tumors (cancer) when injected into animals

Control of differentiation and cell division

Ethical issues

Limited number of cell lines

Rejection potential if from a different donor

Learn about Stem Cell Lines


We love what is doing to educate students through interactive activities. Check out the three activities here:

Create a Stem Cell Line

Repair a Heart with Stem Cells

Stem Cell Transplant

Did You Know?


Photomicrograph of Mesenchymal Stem Cells


Here is a Scanning Electron Micrograph of Mesenchymal Stem Cells as mentioned in the previous post. This is an accurate 3D representation of what they look like. Remember, MSCs can become many different kinds of cells like marrow cells, muscle, bone, cartilage and more. They are known for being long and branch-like.

This image was colorized and used with permission from the National Center for Regenerative Medicine in Cleveland, OH.