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What Makes a Stem Cell a Stem Cell?

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What Makes a Stem Cell a Stem Cell?

Science

What Makes a Stem Cell a Stem Cell?

What Makes a Stem Cell a Stem Cell?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/19279818/19279808" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Both stem cells and cancer cells have the unusual ability to renew themselves. In tumor formation, formerly specialized tissue cells become "reprogrammed" to form tumor tissue. A similar reprogramming takes place in the creation of stem cells. So what lets a stem cell know it's a stem cell, and not a cancer cell?

Stem cell researcher George Daley talks about the discovery of a protein that may help give stem cells their unusual multi-function abilities. The protein, named Lin-28, appears to help regulate the activity of certain small RNA molecules found in both stem cells and cancer.