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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce A. Fenderson, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: Stem cells are present at crossroads along the developmental landscape. In addition to self-renewal, these remarkable cells are able to "interpret" instructions regarding lineage and differentiation. This book details methods for derivation, culture, and differentiation of human stem cells obtained from both embryonic and adult sources. The 13 chapters cover topics ranging from culture of the human germ cell lineage to multipotent stem cells in dental pulp to culturing mammary stem cells. The primary focus of the book is on cell and developmental biology.
Purpose: According to the editors, the aim is to make available a "repertoire of established techniques...to [assist] the large influx of workers." They write, "This book provides a suitable introductory text that will allow incomers to the field...to become familiar with some of the techniques in current use, to increase their knowledge of the discipline, or to develop their own research program."
Audience: The book is written for basic science and clinical researchers, particularly those interested in current topics in developmental biology and the promise of stem cells. Biomedical scientists and clinicians interested in transplantation medicine will also appreciate the wealth of information and exciting ideas presented here.
Features: Each chapter includes a table of contents, introduction, list of essential materials, overviews for specific protocols, and step-by-step instructions for laboratory techniques. The authors provide examples of results from their laboratories. The chapters are written by experts and the book is carefully edited, while line drawings serve to illustrate conceptual points. Color plates convey the sense of excitement one has when viewing stem cells and their derivatives under the microscope. The book includes lists of abbreviations and laboratory suppliers.
Assessment: The principal value of this book lies in the diversity of topics. In addition to chapters on embryonic stem (ES) cells, interesting chapters cover the derivation of multipotential stem cells from mammary tissue, dental pulp, cornea, cord blood, and adipose tissue. The chapters are written for novices as well as experts. One caveat is that the numerical tags used for paragraph headings and tables are often jumbled. For example, we read an overview labeled "18.104.22.168" and simultaneously gaze at Table 3.4 and Table 3.10. Overall, this book is a welcome addition to the literature and the detailed protocols will provide useful tools to stimulate progress in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.