Monday, April 22, 2013

A little white board magic explains the newly discovered flexible stem cells found in breast tissue

I recently wrote about a surprising discovery from Thea Tlsty's lab at UCSF. She's a CIRM grantee who found a group of cells in breast tissue that have the ability to form all types of tissues in the body. This finding defied the conventional wisdom that only cells from the 4-5 day old embryo, which are grown in the lab as embryonic stem cells, have that ability. (Adult cells reprogrammed to mimic those embryonic stem cells can also make all the body's cells.) By contrast, stem cells in adults can only make cells from the tissue where they originate. 

Now, our friend Florie Charles, a graduate student at UCSF, has worked her white board magic to explain why Tlsty's discovery of these flexible cells is such big news. I especially like her description of the fishing expedition the scientists embarked upon to find these rare cells amidst all the other cells of the breast. While making the research clear and understandable, she also makes clear the long hours the scientists spent on this discovery.

You can see Florie's other videos at



  1. This is really an excellent video. Florie Charles is awesome. Here is my own (non-video) take on this paper and passing along why some in the stem cell field are cautious about this finding:
    I would also, by way of friendly feedback, suggest avoiding the word "perfect" or "perfectly" and include more about the limitations of the study and include references to previous papers that were similar. But overall, an outstanding job!

    1. Thank you very much for the feedback! I will definitely take it into account in my next videos.