During embryonic development, stem cells not only differentiate, they start to organize themselves. Rather than merely clumping, they form a distinctly layered structure. Actually, differentiation and self-organization occur together, with stem cells in different embryonic germ layers taking on distinctive roles.
Replicating this process in the lab has proven to be difficult. Researchers tried flooding stem cells with chemical signals. However, simple application of growth factors produced multiple fates without inducing consistent spatial order. Researchers also tried controlling colony geometry. They noted...
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