Haploid cells are living cells, and unlike diploid cells, they contain just a single set of chromosomes. Haploid stem cells are artificial cell lines experimentally derived in vitro in the form of different types of stem cells, which combine the features of haploidy with a broad differentiation potential and open the possibility to uncover biological mysteries at a genomic scale.
Human cells are diploid; this means that they contain 46 chromosomes (23 maternal and 23 paternal). The exception is germ cells that have a single set of chromosomes. Such haploid cells are not capable of division.
Previous attempts to create embryonic stem cells based on human eggs led to getting only diploid cells. In ongoing research, scientists used unfertilized eggs, “forcing” them to divide, and then separated haploid stem cells. The researchers discovered that haploid stem cells are pluripotent – this means that they can turn into other types of cells, including neurons, cardiomyocytes, pancreatic cells, etc. while saving one set of chromosomes.
By the way, scientists have already differentiated haploid cells and got neurons, cells of the heart muscle and pancreas.
Prospects for Haploid Stem Cells:
- since many types of research in diploid cells are hampered by the presence of two copies of genetic material, haploid cells can become a new tool to improve understanding of human body growth, as well as the reasons why human beings reproduce sexually, and not from one of the parents;
- haploid cells have great potential for genetic research. The ability to affect only one copy of genes in human haploid stem cells makes genetic analysis easier in biomedical fields such as cancer research and regenerative medicine.