25 Apr Types of stem cells
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
Stem cells are special type of cells that are capable of producing the copies of them or differentiate into any number of specific cells. Stem cells are identified as the new key to unlock different branches of medical treatments. These cells are formed at the time of your birth and remain long throughout your life. Stem cells are unspecialized cells that act like an internal healing mechanism by differentiate into damaged cells whenever required. The unique properties that characterize stem cells are:
- They are capable of dividing and renewing for long periods of time without losing their potential
- They are unspecialized cells capable to giving rise to specialized cells like brain cell, tissue or white blood cells etc.
Types of stem cells
There are two main types of stem cells.
- Embryonic Stem Cells
- Adult Stem Cells
Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryonic stem cells are obtained from embryos that are created in in-vitro fertilization in labs, with the consent of the respective donors. These cells are used to divide further into several stem cells to be used for research or stem cell therapy. The main characteristic of these stem cells is that they can go on dividing further and further and generate millions of more cells without really differentiating into specialized cells that carry out a specific function.
After the stem cells are harvested from the embryos in the lab, they are cultured and checked if they are pluripotent. If these cells or embryonic bodies are allowed to clump together then they will start to differentiate. The process of differentiation can be controlled in-lab by modification of culture-medium, alteration of culture or by introducing specific genes into the petri-dish. Due to this stem cell therapy provides a lot of promise when treating diseases like diabetes, heart disease, traumatic spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, hearing and vision loss..
Adult Stem Cells / Somatic Stem Cells
The stem cells found amongst the other differentiated cells in a tissue or an organ. These cells start to differentiate within the same location where they are found and will evolve as cells of that organ. The primary task of an adult stem cell is to maintain and repair the tissue where they are found. Stem cell research started almost 60 years ago when it was established that somatic stem cells were of two types:
- Hematopoietic Cells – Cells that can differentiate into all types of blood cells
- Mesenchymal Stem Cells – Cells that can differentiate into cartilage, bone and fat cells
Though there are numerous types of stem cells only some are widely useful in medical field. These cells are used in numerous research that ultimately targets uncomplicated organ transplantation, cure for chronic illnesses like Cancer, Aids etc.
Stem cell therapy through induced pluripotent cells
Induced pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) are somatic cells that have been genetically modified into embryonic cells that are capable of developing into all three germ layers in humans. It is extremely useful for transplantation medicine and drug development. On the whole stem cell research has proven to be extremely potent in curing dangerous diseases and still is being researched upon for the greater good of humankind