What are Stem Cells
Stem cells are one of the human body’s master cells, with the ability to grow into any one of the body’s more than 200 cell types. All stem cells are unspecialized (not involved with a specific area) cells that are characteristically of the same family type (lineage). They can divide throughout life and produce new cells that can become highly specialized to replace those that die or are lost.
Stem cells contribute to the body’s ability to renew and repair its tissues. Unlike mature cells, which are committed to their fate, stem cells can both renew themselves and create new cells of whatever tissue they belong to (and other tissues).
Stem cells are the most primitive cells that are found in bone marrow, umbilical cord and placenta blood, umbilical cord and placenta tissues, adult peripheral blood and other body tissues. Stem cells are the master or progenitor cells from which all the various types of blood cells and other body organ tissues such as bone, muscle, heart, liver, kidney, neuro, eye, skin, etc. are derived.
Stem cells have two biological properties that make their clinical exploitation both feasible and attractive. First, they are capable of self-renewal. When a stem cell divides, it produces a carbon copy of itself. Second, stem cells can differentiate into more specialized cells. In the human brain for instance, there are rare neural stem cells. These can turn into more neural stem cells or, under the appropriate conditions, differentiate into specialized types of cells to replace old or damaged tissue in the brain.
What is the use of stem cells?
Stem cells can be made to grow into brand new cells of different types. In theory they can be injected into a person’s body to replace damaged or diseased cells. Lots of deseases can be cured by using your own stem cells today.For example, in the disease Alzheimers, cells in the brain die. Stem cells could grow back the missing parts of the brain. Or if someone has had a heart attack, they could grow new heart muscle using stem cells. There is even potential to re-grow severed nerves in people paralysed by accidents.