Stem cells are a particular type of cell with the remarkable ability to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. They serve as the body’s raw materials, capable of self-renewal (dividing and creating more identical stem cells) and differentiation (transforming into specialized cells with specific functions).

Stem cells play crucial roles in many processes, including development, tissue repair, and regeneration throughout life. They contribute to tissue maintenance and repair by replenishing cells lost due to normal wear and tear, injury, or disease.

Because of this, stem cells have gained significant attention in biomedical research and regenerative medicine due to their potential for treating various diseases and injuries. The transformative potential of stem cells in revolutionizing medicine lies in their ability to be used as regenerative therapies for degenerative diseases or in novel drug discovery and personalized medicine approaches.

This blog is part of a series on regenerative medicine research and lab informatics. Read the other blogs in the series here.

What Are The Different Types Of Stem Cells?

Based on their origin and the capacity for regeneration, there are three types of stem cells:

Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs)

These come from embryos that are typically a few days old. These “blank” cells have the ability to become any type of cell in your body and also divide indefinitely, which in contrast do not occur with adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they’re capable of becoming any type of cell in the body.

Adult Stem Cells

Somatic or tissue-specific stem cells, also known as adult stem cells, are located in different tissues and organs throughout the body, such as the bone marrow, brain, skin, and liver. These cells are multipotent or sometimes oligopotent, which means they can differentiate into a limited range of cell types related to the tissue from which they originate.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs)

These stem cells are created by reprogramming adult cells, such as skin cells, back into a pluripotent state using genetic manipulation or other techniques. iPSCs exhibit characteristics similar to embryonic stem cells and can differentiate into various cell types.

What Are The Main Areas Of Stem Cell Research?

Regenerative Medicine

This approach aims to harness the regenerative capacity of stem cells to repair, replace, or regenerate damaged tissues and organs. Researchers are employing innovative techniques such as tissue engineering and cell transplantation to restore the functions of tissues and organs, ultimately improving patients’ quality of life.

Advancing Drug Discovery and Development

Stem cells provide new opportunities for disease modelling, drug screening, and toxicity testing. Researchers can create advanced models of human disease by producing patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and transforming them into relevant cell types. This enables more precise prediction of drug responses and identification of potential therapeutic targets, potentially leading to a more personalized and targeted approach to medicine.

Precision Medicine

This is the generation of patient-specific tissues for transplantation and engineering immune cells for targeted cancer therapy. Stem cell-based approaches offer unprecedented opportunities to tailor treatments to the specific needs of individual patients (learn more about personalized gene therapy treatments).

Problems With Stem Cell Culture Experiments

Stem cell culturing is a crucial aspect of stem cell research. It involves growing stem cells in a controlled laboratory environment. The experiments related to stem cell culture require precise record-keeping and data management. Traditional paper-based lab notebooks are often insufficient for managing the information generated in these experiments. Some of the challenges involved in stem cell culture include:

Data Organization

Managing various data types, such as experimental protocols, cell culture conditions, imaging data, and analytical results, for each well, can be extensive.


Collaboration among researchers within and across institutions necessitates efficient sharing and tracking of experimental procedures and outcomes, enabling researchers to distribute the workload.

Data Integrity

Ensuring the precision and reliability of experimental data is essential for reproducibility and credibility, which can be compromized in paper-based systems.

Regulatory Compliance

Meeting regulatory standards and guidelines, such as Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), requires thorough documentation and traceability.

Using Electronic Lab Notebooks For Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research can be complex and challenging, requiring meticulous documentation and data organisation. Using the right electronic lab notebook (such as Sapio ELN) can be crucial when conducting and documenting critical stem cell culture experiments. Sapio ELN offers a digital solution to address these challenges, streamlining the process of conducting and documenting stem cell culture experiments.

Centralized Data Management

A centralized platform for storing, organising, and accessing all experimental data and protocols. Researchers can easily search and retrieve information.

Real-time Collaboration

Researchers can share experimental protocols, record observations, and discuss results, fostering greater teamwork and productivity.

Data Security and Integrity

Electronic signatures and audit trails ensure data integrity and traceability, enhancing the credibility of research findings.

Workflow Automation

ELNs can automate repetitive tasks, such as calculations and data analysis, reducing human error and speeding up the pace of research.

Learn more about the Sapio Electronic Lab Notebook.