Strange Science: Self-Organizing Mouse Stem Cells

MiceMice are frequently used in laboratory settings, but now it’s their stem cells that are being studied, rather than their behaviors.

Scientists in Switzerland have found that if stem cells from mice are placed into a growth-promoting broth, they will organize themselves into a banana-like shape–far more organized than the scientists had originally thought they might wind up.

It’s not quite cloning or self-replication, as the stem cells don’t form themselves into a new mouse. But the form they take on is very similar to that of a mouse embryo, which means that scientists can study the ways these stem cells grow and organize to give them insight into the ways embryos develop. And since this is taking place in a petri dish, it’s easier to watch and study!

To learn more about these self-organizing mouse stem cells, check out this brief article in Science. If you have access to Nature, you can read the full paper here.

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