This proposal addresses fundamental questions in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) biology. The main goals of the research are to understand how hESCs remain as stem cells versus undergoing differentiation into different cell lineages such as heart muscle or neuronal brain cells. In addition to these choices, the proposal will examine how these choices are regulated and how we can improve the safety of the hESCs. One concern of hESC research is that prior to providing differentiated cells to patients for treatment, we need to understand how to control their decisions. If these choices are left unchecked, then hESCs have the potential to form tumor-like cells. Research in this proposal will provide new diagnostic tools to determine when hESCs are normal stem cells, differentiated derivatives that are stable, or abnormal cells that may form tumors. Therefore, this proposal will help develop new markers of cell choices and help to better identify the correct type of cell that may be usefull clinically.
Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) research has the potential to improve knowledge of disease progression, human development, the onset of tumor formation, and cellular therapeutics or what cell types may best be used for patient treatment. There is currently a great need to develop an understanding of the potential of hESCs prior to being used in clinical applications. Research in this proposal will examine how hESCs can be used clinically, only after understanding how to make these cells safe for patients. In this regard, funding this type of research will allow California and its citizens to become a leader in this area. This will benefit California and its citizens greatly by providing first hand knowledge of the clinical safety and relevance of hESC biology to the patients, citizens, clinicians and researchers. Information gained in this proposal could also help develop new partnerships with industry and academia, further promoting the growth of both this research and also promote financial growth for the state of California.