In Part I and II of this series of posts, we covered self-organization of ectodermal and endodermal tissues in 3D culture but much of the recent progress in the field of stem cell biology comes from understanding organogenesis in 3D culture in what is really more like 4 dimensions. Whereas self-organization in 3D culture uses artificial scaffolds required for cells to achieve structural formation, 4D stem cell biology involves natural development of complex tissues by following the internal agenda of the cells. Although transplantation of these self-organized tissues may be superior to conventional engineering that is not to say that the additional use of scaffolds and growth factors in tissue engineering would not improve upon the results of stem cell culture and organogenesis.
Although the stem cell field is rich with remarkable findings, many mysteries remain. Fortunately, recent discoveries help describe the complex mechanisms and dynamic interactions of stem cells working collectively to form sophisticated organ buds in 3D culture. Researchers have even gone further by learning how to control stem cell differentiation and reprogramming by steering the stem cell culture toward the path of choice using specific signals or cues. HemaCare offers a variety of high quality blood cells, including stem cells, that are a convenient human source for regenerative medicine research needs.