The first adult stem cell isolation – who and when?

by Alexey Bersenev on July 10, 2013 · 1 comment

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A week ago we wrote about 25th anniversary of hematopoietic stem cell isolation. We and all other sources considered Weissman’s study of 1988 as the first adult stem cell isolation. However, I’ve got 2 comments, which can challenge this statement. The first comment was made right after the post:

James Eliason July 3, 2013 at 9:49 am:

Actually, it is the 29th anniversary of the first purification of the murine stem cell (Visser et al. J. Exp. Med. 159 1576, 1984: Prof. Weissman, perhaps because he was an immunologist rather than a stem cell biologist at the time, did not reference the prior work. This rather upset some of the people in experimental hematology at the time.

The study, published in 1984 was actually the first where flow cytometry was utilized for hematopoietic stem cell isolation.

I also got a comment via email today. It was referring to the study of 1987 where spheres formation in vitro was used to describe a “first isolated human organ-specific stem cell from a solid tissue“:

This unique clonogenic ability of normal contact-insensitive and human carcinoma cells on the cell mat could provide a selection method for presumptive normal stem and tumor cells and for an assay for screening potential antitumor drugs and assessing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs against a given tumor.

Even though, it was done on fetal tissue, the study could be credited for the first attempt to enrich stem cells via sphere formation.

Since I represent a “new generation” and did not do enough investigative work on this matter, I’d like to ask you –
Dear readers, Who isolate adult stem cells for the first time and when did it happen?

Please give links and supportive evidence in comments!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jim Till July 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

Much very good work has been done on the enrichment of stem cells in adult hematopoietic cell populations. However, my opinion is that “enrichment” and “partial purification” are not the same as “isolation”. If isolation is defined as complete purification, such that 100% of the purified cells are adult hematopoietic stem cells capable of long-term engraftment, then I’m not convinced that anyone has achieved this particular goal yet.

The issues involved have been discussed in: “Hematopoietic stem cells engraft in mice with absolute efficiency” by Benveniste P, Cantin C, Hyam D & Iscove NN, Nat. Immunol. 2003 Jul;4(7):708-13. PMID:12766767, doi:10.1038/ni940.


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