(COLUMBIA, Mo.) — Researchers at the University of Missouri are reporting the discovery of a new type of stem cell that has the ability to transform into a larger number of cell types than either human embryonic (hESCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

This novel stem cell line, created from the addition of a factor known as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)4 to human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), is totipotent, meaning the stem cells can not only make all the cells of the embryo but also other cells, including those of the placenta, which are needed to support a developing embryo.

Michael Roberts, professor of animal science at the University of Missouri, USA, and lead author of the study, said: ‘BMP-primed cells represent a transitional stage of development between embryonic stem cells and their ultimate developmental fate, whether that is placenta cells, or skin cells or brain cells.

‘We can use these new stem cells for future research to better understand how embryos are organized and what causes diseases like pre-eclampsia and other prenatal problems.’

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