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Human embryonic stem cells readily differentiate into human melanocytes and are thus an ideal model to investigate the stages of differentiation. The most important growth factors for differentiation are Wnt 3a, SCF and EDN3. Although we can readily induce their differentiation, we do not yet know exactly the mechanisms for differentiation nor have we yet defined the precursor stages.
Fang, D., Leishear, K., Nguyen, T.K., Finko, R., Cai, K., Fukunaga, M., Li, L., Brafford, P.A., Kulp, A.N., Xu, X., Smalley, K.S., Herlyn, M.: Defining the conditions for the generation of melanocytes from human embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells 24:166 8-1677, 2006.
Zabierowski, S.E., Herlyn, M.: Embryonic stem cells as a model to study melanocyte development. Methods Mol Biol. 584: 301-316, 2010. PMID 19907984
The microscope in the image belonged to William E. Horner, M.D., a collaborator with Caspar Wistar, M.D., in the early 1800s.
Dr. Horner, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, was a pioneer of the use of microscopes in anatomical and medical research. He authored Special Anatomy and Histology, a seminal text on the subject.