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Doody ReviewsReviewer: Bruce A. Fenderson, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: Tissues in the body are populated with stem cells that are able to self-renew and differentiate to compensate for cell loss due to senescence and injury. This volume in the popular Methods in Molecular Biology series provides a snapshot of research techniques and protocols for identifying and culturing these amazing tissue-specific stem cells. The 13 chapters cover topics ranging from identification of mammary epithelial stem cells to the use of cultured dendritic cells for anticancer immunotherapy. The primary focus is on mammalian stem cell culture and modern techniques in cell biology.
Purpose: According to the editors, the goals of this volume are to make available "new methods to identify and obtain these [stem cells] in quantity and purity for further study." The editors and authors are keenly interested in defining "aspects of the stem cell environment or niche that are crucial for both growth and differentiation." Future applications of adult stem cell research focus on the restoration of organ function in patients with chronic disease.
Audience: The book is written for basic science and clinical researchers interested in stem cell biology, as well as mechanisms of carcinogenesis and malignancy. It also will be valued by biomedical scientists and clinicians interested in cytotechnology and biotechnology.
Features: This volume provides essential background information and detailed protocols for identifying, isolating, characterizing, and manipulating adult organ-specific stem cells. Each chapter contains an abstract, overview and introduction, step-by-step materials and methods, notes, and key references. The notes section provides helpful tips for troubleshooting and avoiding known pitfalls. The authors highlight results and provide examples of stem cell morphology in culture. This volume focuses on six types of stem cells, those for the mammary gland, connective tissue mesenchyme, vascular endothelium, dendritic cells, skeletal muscle, and central nervous system. Some of the figures are reproduced in color.
Assessment: A minor criticism is that the techniques used in this field are still primitive (e.g., fat pad injection assay). In addition, there is a lack of consensus on definitive stem cell markers. Stem cell culture remains an art more than a science. Nonetheless, this book will be valued by basic science and clinical researchers because it pulls together methods that are yielding insights into isolation of tissue-specific stem cells and their culture requirements. The topic is fascinating and clinically relevant. I enjoyed learning about antigen-priming dendritic cells.