What is a stem cell? Can stem cells help with regenerative health? Stem cells are defined based on two criteria, the ability to replicate and the capacity to become other cell types. Medical science improves each day, and research into stem cells plays an important role in new advances and medical techniques. It is important to know the basics of stem cells when exploring potential treatment options.
What Is A Stem Cell | The Basics
This article explores the definition of a stem cell, as well as types of stem cells and their use in medicine.
What Is a Stem Cell?
What is a stem cell? The simple definition of a stem cell is a type of undifferentiated cell that can replicate and become other cell types that form the human body. Doctors may recommend stem cell therapy to encourage healthy cell growth (direct effects) or to support healthy mechanisms within the body, such as the reduction of inflammation and scarring (paracrine effects). Stem cells activate and become a specialized cell when body systems need replenishing and when you face injuries or disease.
Stem cells come from two main sources: adult body tissues and human embryos. Scientists break down adult stem cells by their ability to become different body tissues. In contrast, embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent stem cells that can become any cell type.
Adult Stem Cells
Doctors get adult stem cells from specific areas of your body. A common source of adult stem cells is bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue. A doctor extracts the cells from these sites to use in other areas of your body.
Adult stem cells are also found in your brain, skin, liver, teeth, and other tissues. When stem cells divide, they take two potential roles: a new stem cell or a specialized cell. Specialized cells help your body heal from injuries or certain illnesses.
Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs)
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) come from 4 to 5-day old human embryos. In most cases, the stem cells are from extra embryos in an in vitro fertilization clinic or IVF clinic that would otherwise be indefinitely frozen or discarded as medical waste. The clinic implants one fertilized egg into a woman’s body to form a child. Because IVF clinics collect several fertilized eggs, researchers may use the extra eggs for producing embryonic stem cells for use in stem cell therapy.
Embryonic stem cells are also called pluripotent stem cells. That means they can become any type of specialized cell in your body. They differ from adult stem cells, which can only become a limited range of specialized cell types.
What is a Stem Cell Culture?
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When your doctor discusses stem cell therapy, you will hear about stem cell culture. What is stem cell culture? It is the process of encouraging stem cells to divide and replicate.
If a doctor decides to use adult stem cells, then he or she will extract the cells from an adult’s body. Using an individual’s stem cells reduces the risk of a negative immune reaction, because the cells are a match for your body. Often, doctors extract the cells from your bone marrow or adipose tissue.
Doctors derive embryonic stem cells from a blastocyst. They place the blastocyst embryo in a culture dish containing a nutrient-rich broth. The broth encourages replication without stimulating specialized development.
Stem cell culture involves the process of encouraging the cells to replicate. It is the technique used by medical professionals and scientists to increase the number of cells available for stem cell therapy. The process is more difficult for adult stem cells.
Potency and Stem Cells
Stem cells break down into different categories. The potency of a stem cell is the potential for differentiation in a cell. Human embryonic stem cells have the most potency. They are able to become any type of cell in the body.
Totipotent cells are able to differentiate into any cell. A zygote in early development is a mass of totipotent stem cells. When allowed to develop, the cells become a fully-formed human.
Pluripotent stem cells differentiate into most types of cells. Embryonic stem cells fall into the pluripotent category. They can become most specialized cells. The cells have limited differentiation.
Multipotent stem cells come from adults. They are usually derived from blood cells or platelets. The cells can differentiate into related cells but have limitations.
Oligopotent stem cells only differentiate into a few types of cells. Lymphoid cells are a type of oligopotent stem cells. They come from the adult lymphatic system.
The final type of stem cell is unipotent. The cell becomes a single type of specialized cell. Muscle stem cells are a unipotent cell. It will become a muscle cell but is not able to specialize in other tissues.
Stem cells used in medicine are usually pluripotent or multipotent cells. Doctors run tests on the cells in a lab. Doctors confirm the cells can auto-renew. They also ensure the cells are not differentiated.
Medicine and Stem Cells
Stem cell therapy is a growing field of study. Researchers try to find new ways for stem cells to help with diseases and injuries. Researchers use stem cells to develop new medical treatments.
Organ regeneration is an exciting area of research. Scientists and researchers strive to differentiate stem cells into new organs. By growing new organs, researchers and doctors save lives. Organ transplants need a donated organ. The problem is the supply of organs. Research into the regeneration of organs offers a solution.
Stem cells offer treatments for heart disease. Early research using mice shows positive results in relation to blood vessels. The studies suggest blood vessels made from stem cells are healthy.
Treating brain diseases with stem cells may offer medical solutions. Stem cells differentiate into brain cells and help repair damages to the brain.
Adult stem cells in bone marrow and peripheral blood help with certain blood diseases. Doctors use the cells for leukemia and other autoimmune conditions. Another promising source of stem cells for blood diseases is umbilical cord blood. The cells in the umbilical cord reduce the risk of the patient rejecting the cells and are easy to obtain.
With more than 300,000 scientific articles published to date, there’s no doubt that stem cells have proven useful in both medicine and research.
Because stem cells can differentiate into a wide range of cells, they have many applications in medicine. As researchers strive to find new applications, growing insight into stem cells will be revealed.
Stem Cell Treatment
If you are seeking a stem cell treatment, GIOSTAR can help you access medical guidance and advice. In alignment with what we believe at BioInformant, GIOSTAR’s goal is to offer cutting-edge, extensively researched stem cell therapy options designed to improve a patient’s quality of life.
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