News - Stem Cell Research

Stem cells are the body’s basic building blocks.

A stem cell is like a blank slate, once it is given an instruction a stem cell specializes and then becomes a certain type of cell depending on the instruction it was given, these specialized cells can be: neural, cardiac, cartilage, blood and more!

Stem cells are able to reproduce themselves indefinitely. Each new stem cell has the capacity to specialize into a specific cell or remain as an unspecialized stem cell.

 

 

There are many different types of stem cells, they are described as pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells can become any type of cell in the human body. Pluripotent stem cells only exist during the beginning of an organism’s development. When the organism is an embryo stem cells are often called embryonic stem cells.

Adult stem cells exist in a developed organism, and are more limited than embryonic stem cells, these stem cells can usually only become a few types of specialized cells, depending on the tissue in which they originate from. For example, a particular adult stem cell may only be able to differentiate into different types of blood cell; red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. These types of adult stem cells are also known as multi potent stem cells.

These is evidence, however, to suggest that certain types of adult stem cells can differentiate into a much broader range of cell types than was originally thought. For example, brain stem cells have been shown to differentiate into blood and skeletal muscle cells.

Stem cells are proving to be the key to a new generation of treatments for many diseases. Embryonic stem cells could be used to create new tissue or organs for patients awaiting transplant.

Stem cells may also be used to repair malfunctioning cells in the body, for example, they could be used to repair neurological cells in patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson's or even to create new bone marrow for people suffering from leukemia.

Basic medical research into the functions of stem cells could provide insight into how these cells work and how researchers might be able to combat diseases at a cellular level.

Stem cell research is still in its very early stages of development, scientists have only been working with embryonic stem cells since 1998. As scientists learn more about stem cells, they could potentially be used to treat many diseases. Including: Alzheimer's, Arthritis, Burn victims, Diabetes, Parkinson’s, and spinal cord injuries.

Future medical research on stem cells will give us a better insight into which diseases can be treated and how.

 

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