What are STEM Cells and How Do They Work?

There are three types of stem cells. Based on their unique properties, each stem cell has the potential to be used in medical research or clinical applications.

STEM CELLS They are the building blocks for the human body. They divide in order to make a person from an embryo at the beginning of life. They replenish the cells in our blood, bones, skin, and organs as we age. Stem cells may be a powerful tool in the treatment of injury or illness.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS

  • After a sperm fertilizes an eggs, the first cells that form are those which have been activated.
  • “Blank slate cells”: These cells can be transformed into any other type of cell in your body.
  • You can divide and multiply indefinitely.
  • It is controversial in medicine, as embryos must be killed to get stem cells.

ADULT STEM CELLS

  • Regenerative stem cells from mature adults that can replenish blood, skin and gut, as well as other cells.
  • Sometimes, cells can be replaced by healthy cells or injured cells.
  • It is not possible to change cells into other types.
  • Limitation in ability to multiply and divide.

INDUCED-PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS

  • Reprogrammed adult cells to behave and look like embryonic stem cell.
  • Can be made from skin, blood, and other adult cells.
  • Cells can be altered from their embryonic state to become any type of cell.
  • Potential use in medicine. However, this is still a new area for research.

EMBRYONIC

What is it?

The human embryonic stem cells are the starting cells for the body. They are not differentiated, meaning they have not been specialized and matured. However, they can be transformed into any other type of cell in the body.

These cells can multiply and become different types of cells in embryos. They can be multiplied in the laboratory to make stem cell lines that can be used for research or therapy.

Scientists extract embryonic stem cells from embryos that are three to five days old and donated by individuals who have undergone in-vitro fertilation. In 1998, scientists isolated the first human embryonic cells.

What is the difference between stem cells and

These stem cells are the only ones that can naturally become any type of cell and multiply indefinitely. They can be nudged into specific cell types if they are placed in the right conditions.

What characteristics confer medical potential on these cells?

Because they can differentiate and multiply, embryonic cells have long been considered to be the most powerful and most likely to treat injury or disease. Scientists can control the rate at which embryonic stem cells differentiate, and how often they do so embryonic stem cells may be used to replace damaged parts of the body. This could include missing insulin-making cells for people with Type 1 diabetes or brain cells that have been affected by Parkinson’s disease.

What are their limitations?

There are many ethical issues with using human embryos in scientific research. Due to their ability to reproduce endlessly, the embryonic stem cells may become susceptible to mutations that could hinder their growth or cause them to continue dividing until they are unable to do so. It is difficult to find the best medical uses for embryonic stem cell transplants.

ADULT

What is it?

Because adult stem cells are maturer than embryonic stem cells, they can also be called adult stem cells. However, they do not necessarily need to be from adults. They are more mature than embryonic stem cells, which means they have a limited ability to differentiate. Many organs contain pockets of adult stem cells. They replenish the cells within those organs. There are several types of adult stem cells:

HEMATOPOIETIC

They are found in bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and they can become immune and blood cells. The FDA has approved stem cells for use in therapy for certain blood cancers.

MESENCHYMAL

These cells can be found in all parts of the body, including bone marrow and fat tissue. These cells transform into connective tissue throughout the body. However, the specific cell that they become depends on the organ they are located in. They may reduce inflammation.

FETAL

Fetus stem cells are maturer and less capable of differentiation than an embryonic stem cells. However, they can be more versatile than adult stem cells. One example is that neural stem cells derived from fetal brain tissue may become multiple types of neurons. However, neural stem cells derived from adult brains are rare and can only differentiate in a limited way.

What is the difference between stem cells and

The abilities of adult stem cells are limited. They are limited in their ability to become specific types of cells.

What characteristics confer medical potential on these cells?

Although adult stem cells have less power than embryonic cells, they can be used more easily since everyone has their own supply. They could be helpful in reducing inflammation.

What are their limitations?

Given their limited capabilities, it’s not clear how useful stem cells can be. Although it is tempting to tap into an individual’s own adult stem cells for treatment, these cells are unable to repair serious injuries or replace disease-related cells like neurons and insulin-producing cells.

INDUCED-PLURIPOTENT

What is it?

Induced pluripotent (IPS) cells can be adult cells, such as skin or blood cells. They have been taken from an individual to be reprogrammed in the lab to look like an embryonic stem cell. They can then be used to make any type of cell, just like embryonic stem cells. A skin cell can be transformed into an embryonic-like or heart cell.

What is the difference between stem cells and

They are similar to embryonic stem cells but they are made in a laboratory. They are a perfect match for the individual they came from because they come directly from that person. Scientists are still examining whether IPS cells can be interchangeably used with embryonic stem cells.

What characteristics confer medical potential on these cells?

They can be used to replace cells that have been damaged or killed by disease. IPS cells can also be used in animal studies and in Petri dishes to study human diseases. Scientists can use skin cells taken from someone with a genetic mutation to convert them into IPS cells and then study these cells as living models of the mutation’s function.

What are their limitations?

Making IPS cells can take a lot of time and resources. IPS cells are not as limited as an embryonic stem cells.

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