What are Stem Cells?
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Stem cells are unique cells since they have an outstanding ability to develop into different cell types in the body. They have the ability to regenerate cells and organs, hence; functioning as the body’s internal repair system. Stem cells have the capacity to divide itself without limit, replenishing and repairing other cells like muscle cells or other tissues, or it could remain as a dormant stem cell, waiting to be awakened when the time is needed.
What makes stem cells unique from other cells?
Stem cells differ from other cell because:
1. Stem cells are capable of renewing and dividing themselves for long periods. Regular tissue cells like muscle, blood or nerve cells do not replicate themselves. Stem cells on the other hand can replicate themselves and proliferate. On a laboratory culture, freshly harvested stem cells can proliferate to millions of cells in just a few months.
2. Stem cells are unspecialized. This means that stem cells do not have any tissue specific structure. It is not a muscle, bone or any other tissue, but has the capacity to transform into one.
3. Stem cells can change into specialized tissue. As mentioned earlier, stem cells have the capacity to change or transform into specialized tissue, this process is called differentiation. During differentiation, stem cells goes through several process, become more specialized at each step. Stem cells have the capacity to differentiate to any kind of tissue in the body.
Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryonic stem cells are stem cells that are harvested from a four or five day fertilized human egg, which is in the blastocyst phase of development. These are extra embryos which have been created for in vitro fertilization clinics where several eggs are fertilized in a test tube and only 4 or 5 eggs are introduced into a woman womb.
During this development the blastocyst consists of an outer cell mass, which will form the plancenta and the inner cell mass, which will differentiate and form all the different organs of the body. It is this inner cell mass is the source of embryonic stem cells.
Due to controversy, embryonic stem cells are not used for treatments due to moral and ethical issues.
Amniotic Stem Cells
Amniotic stem cells are multipotential stem cells that are
found in the amniotic fluid. These cells are very active and have the highest
concentration of stem cells compared to other sources. Amniotic stem cell could
be stored in banks and does not prompt any moral and ethical issues. For this
reason, amniotic stem cells are commonly used in treatment of various
conditions which in the past, were thought of as incurable.
What is amniotic
stem cell therapy?
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