Contact: Bess Andrews
Boston Children's Hospital
Caption: When exposed to a growth factor, a blood stem cell, represented by a blue marble, falls into a new "attractor state," depicted as a valley in a landscape, to become a red blood cell. Different influences, such as differentiation factors, can lead stem cells to the same attractor state, but each cell can take very different paths though the landscape to get there (just as a marble might take a different path each time it rolls down a hill).
Credit: Graham Paterson, Children's Hospital Boston
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Related news release: Many paths, few destinations: How stem cells decide what they'll be