Stem cells are increasingly finding uses in both basic and clinical research. While traditionally of interest to those studying the regulation of growth and differentiation, stem cells are now being used in some of the hottest areas of research--in the construction of transgenic animals and vehicles in gene therapy and transplantation studies. These applications all require the culturing of stem cells outside the animal for some period of time, a task that is particularly challenging. As is the case with primary cultures of any kind, sustaining the life of and in some cases expanding a population of stem cells requires special conditions, different from those required by established lines. And with stem cell cultures, an additional problem is maintaining the pluripotency of the cells and, when appropriate, starting the cells off on the pathway of differentiation. A variety of special media and reagents can be purchased for each step...

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