What Exactly are Stem Cells??? D2G Explains!!!

3000All About Stem Cells by D2G

Hello Friends,

Nowadays we hear a lot about Stem Cells. There is also a new trend in which parents bank their children’s umbilical cord stem cells with some company and they call it as Stem Cell Banking. Whenever there is a breakthrough in stem cell research, it gets viral and showcased in all the media.

Why the whole World gives so much importance on Stem Cells? What exactly it is? Why it is so special? How it can change the world? How it can be beneficial to the people? What is Stem Cell Therapy? What is Stem Cell Banking?

This Article is going to give answers to all these questions. So kindly read it slowly and understand everything about Stem Cells. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Stem Cells


Stem Cells

In our body there are many types of cells and each type of cells has a specific specialized function. Stem cells are a class of unspecialized and undifferentiated cells that are able to differentiate into specialized cell types. Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues, stem cells serve as a sort of internal repair system. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

stem-cells

Stem cells are the foundation cells for every organ, tissue and cell of the body. Thus, first stem cells originate within the developing embryo. Stem cells from the bone marrow can develop into cardiac muscle, as well as liver, brain, nerve, fat and skin tissue. These cells are progenitor cells that lead to creation of new cells and are thus called as generative cells. Haematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow and give rise to all the blood cell types.

How Stem Cells are different from other cell types?

Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two characteristics.

  1. They are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity.
  2. Under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions.

Sources of Stem Cells

Commonly, stem cells come from two main sources.

  1. Embryos formed during the blastocyst phase of embryological development (embryonic stem cells).
  2. Adult tissue (adult stem cells).

What are Embryonic Stem Cells?

Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, an early-stage preimplantation embryo. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells.

  • The blastocyst is a structure formed in the early development of mammals. It possesses an inner cell mass (ICM) which subsequently forms the embryo.
  • In organisms that reproduce sexually, an embryo develops from a zygote, the single cell resulting from the fertilization of the female egg cell by the male sperm cell. The zygote possesses half the DNA of each of its two parents.

Embryonic stem cells are derived from a four- or five-day-old human embryo that is in the blastocyst phase of development. The embryos are usually extras that have been created in IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinics where several eggs are fertilized in a test tube, but only one is implanted into a woman.

Isolating the embryoblast or inner cell mass (ICM) results in destruction of the blastocyst, which raises ethical issues.

What are Adult Stem Cells?

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells, found throughout the body after development, that multiply by cell division to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. Also known as somatic stem cells, they can be found in juvenile as well as adult animals and human bodies. These stem cells have been found in tissues such as the brain, bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, skin, and the liver. They remain in a quiescent or non-dividing state for years until activated by disease or tissue injury.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of human adult stem cells in research and therapy is not considered to be controversial, as they are derived from adult tissue samples rather than human embryos designated for scientific research.

Why don’t we use Adult Stem Cells for all the treatments?

Typically, there is a very small number of stem cells in each tissue and, once removed from the body, their capacity to divide is limited, making generation of large quantities of stem cells difficult. Scientists in many laboratories are trying to find better ways to grow large quantities of adult stem cells in cell culture and to manipulate them to generate specific cell types so they can be used to treat injury or disease.

Why Stem Cells are very special?

Every cell in the body, for example, is derived from first few stem cells formed in the early stages of embryological development. Therefore, stem cells extracted from embryos can be induced to become any desired cell type. This property makes stem cells powerful enough to regenerate damaged tissue under the right conditions.

For example, it may become possible to generate healthy heart muscle cells in the laboratory and then transplant those cells into patients with chronic heart disease.

In people who suffer from type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas that normally produce insulin are destroyed by the patient’s own immune system. New studies indicate that it may be possible to direct the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells in cell culture to form insulin-producing cells that eventually could be used in transplantation therapy for persons with diabetes.

Organ and Tissue Regeneration

Tissue regeneration is probably the most important possible application of stem cell research. Currently, organs must be donated and transplanted, but the demand for organs far exceeds supply. Stem cells could potentially be used to grow a particular type of tissue or organ if directed to differentiate in a certain way. Stem cells that lie just beneath the skin, for example, have been used to engineer new skin tissue that can be grafted on to burn victims.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem-cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition. Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used stem-cell therapy, but some therapies derived from umbilical cord blood are also in use. Research is underway to develop various sources for stem cells, and to apply stem-cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.

A stem cell treatment is a treatment that uses stem cells, or cells that come from stem cells, to replace or to repair a patient’s cells or tissues that are damaged. The stem cells might be put into the blood, or transplanted into the damaged tissue directly, or even recruited from the patient’s own tissues for self-repair.

What is Stem Cell Banking?

An stem cell bank is a facility that stores stem cells derived from amniotic fluid for future use. Stem cell samples in private banks are stored specifically for use by the individual person from whom such cells have been collected and the banking costs are paid by such person. Amniotic stem cells are collected from amniotic fluid extracted during a genetic amniocentesis, a prenatal diagnosis procedure typically performed during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.

After the collection, the amniotic fluid sample containing the stem cells is shipped to a lab for processing, cryopreservation and storage. The processed sample is exposed to a gradual freezing process which is important because it keeps the cells alive during the cryopreservation process. After freezing, the sample is transferred to a liquid nitrogen storage tank.

The amniotic fluid, commonly called a pregnant woman’s water or waters, is the protective liquid contained by the amniotic sac of a pregnant female.

Regenerative Medicine – The Future

Regenerative medicine is a field of medical research developing treatments to repair or re-grow specific tissue in the body. Because a person’s own (autologous) amniotic stem cells can be safely infused back into that individual without being rejected by the body’s immune system – and because they have unique characteristics compared to other sources of stem cells – they are an increasing focus of regenerative medicine research. Research in this area has the potential to revolutionize medicine.

Check out this Video to understand better!!!

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