This post was contributed by Kusumika (Kushi) Mukherjee, editor of Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, a Cell Press reviews journal.
Stem cells are special types of cells that can develop or “differentiate” into more specialized cells with specific functions . In many tissues, stem cells serve to replenish/replace damaged cells that no longer function adequately . Stem cells’ ability to differentiate into multiple cell types makes them useful models for developmental processes and promising therapeutic tools. The two unique characteristics that define stem cells are: