STEM CELL ART

“Stem Cells: The Heroes of Disease"

Stem cells hold the promise of treating multiple diseases, be it through their regenerative capabilities or insight to biological systems. As an artist and scientist, I cannot help but imagine stem cells as superheroes fighting against “villains” of disease, as both are synonymous of good against evil. The vibrant colors of my paintings aim to evoke ideals of invincibility and inspiration in this developing science.
 
My project was funded by the Bridging Arts and Science Alliance and donated to the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Master’s program at the University of Southern California for inspiration for future students during their work and education in expanding the field of regenerative medicine.

Materials: Acrylic and Krink on canvas.

THE ASTROCYTE
ACRYLIC AND KRINK ON CANVAS, 2017

Astrocytes help maintain the optimal environment for neuronal signal transmission. During development, neural stem cells differentiate into neurons and glial cells, such as astrocytes. These stem cells are abundant and can regenerate in the fetal brain but have minimal regeneration capabilities in the adult brain. Neural stem cells have the potential to be used in cell replacement therapy, drug delivery and disease modeling.

THE BLASTOCOEL
ACRYLIC AND KRINK ON CANVAS, 2017

Human embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst on day 5 in embryonic development. Human ES cells are pluripotent cells and can differentiate into various cell types in vivo and in vitro. There has been a shift away from using human embryonic stem cells due to ethical issues and replaced with reprogramming somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells.
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THE SKIN
ACRYLIC AND KRINK ON CANVAS, 2018

Skin stem cells are the multipotent adult stem cells that self-renew and differentiate into the layers of the skin. They reside in the basal layer of the epidermis and generate terminally differentiated cells that become the layers of the epidermis. Skin renewal occurs throughout life and during skin injury and repair. Current studies are exploring wound healing, genetic manipulation and patients with skin disorders.

SATELITTE CELLS
ACRYLIC AND KRINK ON CANVAS, 2018

Satellite Cells are the stem cells of skeletal muscle and play an indispensable role in muscle regeneration. Adult skeletal muscle regeneration is a highly orchestrated process involving the activation of various cellular and molecular responses showing the remarkable ability to repair post injury. Satellite cells are not as applicable in regenerative medicine due to isolation difficulties outside of the body.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells
ACRYLIC AND KRINK ON CANVAS, 2017

Hematopoietic stem cells are responsible for the production and replenishment of all blood cell types during the entire life of an organism. HSCs are first generated during embryonic development and then colonize in the bone marrow where they will reside in adults. HSC therapy is the current standard treatment for numerous hematological conditions such as multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia. HSCs will rapidly expand after in vivo transplantation, however, control of HSC self-renewal and differentiation in culture remains difficult. 

RETINAL CELLS
ACRYLIC AND KRINK ON CANVAS, 2018

The retina contains photoreceptor cells, called rods and cones, whose job is to react to light and convert it into electrical signals to send to the brain. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) layer is essential for maintaining the health of the light sensitive photoreceptors.The RPE cells are lost in Macular Degeneration, causing death of photoreceptors and a loss of central vision and therefore, blindness. Current treatment of Macular Degeneration looks to use stem cells to replace the retinal cells that die in the hopes of halting further blindness and slow the progression of the disease.