07 May How the Science of Stem Cell Works
The human body naturally has cells (placed on reserve) that can replace worn out or damaged ones. For instance, when a person becomes sick or injured, the cells in the affected part of the body become damaged or dies and gets replaced by stem cells for renewal.
Stem cells have the ability to adapt to any part of the body they find themselves and can act like brand new cells which help to aid healing in the body. That said, stem cells are actually cells that can become other types of cells, and can also divide to recreate itself.
As we grow older, the number of stem cells in our body reduces, making it harder for the body to heal fast and recover from injury or illness. This is the reason why people get wrinkled skin and other signs of ageing. The body now takes more time to heal in the event of an illness, unlike children and younger adults. The stem cells do not have specific functions they simply adapt to different body organs where they go to replace old or needy cells.
The Benefits and Potential of Stem Cells
Since stem cells have the ability to transform into other types of cells, scientists believe that they can be useful for treating and understanding diseases. Stem cells can also be used to grow new cells in a laboratory, which can be used to replace damaged organs or tissues in the body. They can be used
To correct parts of the body organs that are faulty.
To test new drugs
To further research on cancer and other diseases.
In the future stem cells may be used to replace cells and tissues that have been damaged or lost due to disease.
Types and Sources of Stem Cell
In mammals there are two types of stem cells which are the embryonic and adult stem cells.
Embryonic Stem Cells
This type of stem cell can be gotten from human embryos that are three to five days old. Three to five days old embryos are harvested during a process called in-vitro fertilization. This involves fertilizing an embryo in a laboratory instead of inside the female body. Embryonic stem cells extracted from the embryo are known as pluripotent stem cells. These cells can transform into virtually any other type of cell in the body.
Adult Stem Cells
These are from developed organs and tissues in the body. They’re used by the body to repair and replace damaged tissue in the same area in which they are found. For example, hematopoietic stem cells are a type of adult stem cell found in the bone marrow. They make new red blood cells, white blood cells, and other types of blood cells. Doctors have been performing stem cell transplants, also known as bone marrow transplants, for decades using hematopoietic stem cells in order to treat certain types of cancer. They are frequently used in various medical therapies (e.g. bone marrow transplantation).
Stem cells can now be artificially grown and transformed into specialized cell types with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves.
Other types of stem cells include
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSCS)
These are adult stem cells that have been turned into pluripotent stem cells. These are cells that can differentiate into all types of specialized cells in the body. This means they can potentially produce new cells for any organ or tissue. To create pluripotent (IPSCS) stem cell, scientists genetically reprogram the adult stem cells so they behave like embryonic stem cells. Scientist are still exploring ways to perfect the production of IPSCS stem cells.
Cord Blood Stem Cells and Amniotic Fluid Stem Cells
Cord blood stem cells are harvested from the umbilical cord after childbirth. They can be frozen in cell banks for use in the future. These cells have been successfully used to treat children with blood cancers, such as leukemia, and certain genetic blood disorders.
Stem cells have also been found in amniotic fluid. This is the fluid that surrounds a developing baby inside the mother’s womb. However, more research is needed to help understand the potential uses of amniotic fluid stem cells.
Plant stem cells
This type of stem cell is much easier to use and comes with no complications or controversy as is the case with mammal stem cells since they are extracted from plants.
Plant stem cells like other types of stem cell, have the ability to create cells that can adapt to any part of the plant. They never undergo an aging process and they produce new cells as often as it is needed . These cells have the potential to grow into any tissue or cell in the plant’s body.
The stem cell technology shows promise for treating some diseases that currently have no specific cure and has the potential to become a scientific breakthrough in health and disease cures.