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Stem Cell: What Exactly Are They?

Have You Heard Of Stem Cell Therapy Or Stem Cell Injection?

It was first discovered in 1931, which is more than 30 years when scientists found the way to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos. Thanks to the further and more detail study of the early mouse embryos, a discovery of method to derive human stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in the laboratory.

From there on, more researches and studies on stem cell as alternative medical treatment; stem cell treatment and stem cell injection. But really, just what are stem cells exactly?

Stem Cells Source Of Origin

Stem cells have two origins; the adult body tissues and embryos. The effort to produce stem cells from other cells via genetic reprogramming technique.

Adult Stem Cells

Fact: Human body produces stem cells, and can be use whenever it needs them.

These also known and called as somatic stem cells or tissue-specific stem cells. From the moment of an embryo develops itself, adult stem cells exist since then.

These cells stay nonspecific until the body requires them for specific purpose, example; skin or muscle cells.

The body renews the cells in its body constantly. As example,  the gut and bone marrow, where stem cells are divided on regular basis for maintenance and repairs.

In every types of tissue, there are presence of stem cells. Scientists have found in tissues as well as:

  • The brain
  • Bone marrow
  • Blood and blood vessels
  • Skeletal muscles
  • Skin
  • The liver

Though finding stem cells can be rather difficult. For years, they can remain non-dividing and non-specific until the body requires them for repair or other such matter.

Adult stem cells able to self-renew and divide. Meaning they are able to generate various cells type from originating organ or to regenerate or repair original organ. This is how skins, or muscles repair or renew themselves. Including other organs such the liver.

Previously, scientists concluded the cells are only able to differentiate based on the tissue they originated from. But now, scientists discovered that there are ways to suggest the cells to differentiate to other type of cells.

Embryonic Stem Cells

Another source of stem cells come from an embryo has taken the form of blastocyst or a ball of cells. The blastocyst contains stem cells which later will be implanted to the womb . These stem cells from blastocyst are 4-5 days old.

The stem cells taken by scientists from an embryo are usually extras resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF). So when a sperm fertilize the egg, the cells combine together to form a zygote.

Right before the embryo implants itself in the uterus, this mass consists of 150-200 cells is the blastocyst and it contains two parts:

  • Outer cell mass that becomes part of the placenta
  • Inner cell mass that would later develop into human body

And within the inner cell is where the embryonic stem cells can be found. These cells are called totipotent by the scientists. The name and term is used  because the cells have the potential to develop itself into any cells within the body. Plus, with the right stimulations the cells can become blood cells, skin cell and all other types of cells in the body.

To learn even more about stem cell, check this video below.


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Stem Cell Treatment

Currently there people living in a state of uncertainty, wondering how much time they have left–will a matching donor appear in time? It is the worse feeling when your life hangs in the balance, in hope one of them is a match. This why scientists have tirelessly researching on the stem cells as an alternative for various medical conditions plaguing people around the world.

recently after many years the scientists, scientists at Edinburgh University to be exact in this case. Stated that one day it is possible lab-grown tissue could replace the need for transplant. Hence, it will increase the chance of patients beating the cancer that they’re afflicted with. 

This only possible because stem cells able to arrange themselves into three-dimensional structure when a scaffold or mold is offered. The ability to grow organ in labs is the big goal that both the scientific and medical community are currently trying to achieve. Such breakthrough will change the way how medicine field works and saves many lives. 

The ability to do so will greatly change the lives of both patients and the medical team as the need for transplant procedure will be eliminated and chances for patients to combat and survive from the fatal health issues they’re suffering from because they do not have to wait in a long anymore in order to find a matching donor.

The current stage of development for stem cells is at the point where scientists are trying to grow stem cells into liver cells. Though the stem cells required a backbone, scaffold in order to form three dimensional structure. So the scientists created a fiber mesh that was one centimeter square and a few millimeter thick. The human stem cells were grown for 60 days before loaded onto the scaffold to form their desired three dimensional structure.

Once completed, the formed structure then implanted under the skin of mice with potentially fatal genetic disorder disease called tyrosinemia. Mice with these implants showed signs of having fewer liver damage, lost of weight and low toxins level in their blood. According to scientists this indicates that stem cells, or lab grown cell can help to combat disease such as tyrosinemia, fifth biggest killer in United Kingdom.

As of currently, the only way to combat it is via transplant, though it can take months or even years before a patient could find a matching donor because the waiting list is very long. The less fortunate passed away before they could get a matching donor. The very reason these scientists been working hard to develop further lab grown cells from experimental stage to real and actual use in hospitals and medical institutions.


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