Stem cell research is everywhere right now, but the general public barely has access to it. This is because it is still undergoing various researches to make it more accessible to everyone. It doesn’t mean to say that stem cell is ineffective. There are certain treatments using stem cell technology that is proven effective. But until there are still doubts surrounding it despite the number of success cases, people need to be more familiar with this new medical technology.
What is Stem Cell?
They have a unique ability in developing specialized cell types within the body. They come from 2 main sources:
These two types are generally characterized according to their potency or the potential in differentiating in different types of cells, such as a bone cell, muscle cell, skin cell, etc.
Adult Stem Cells
Also known as somatic stem cells, they exist all over the body after the embryonic development. They are found in various tissue types. Such stem cells are found in tissues in the bone marrow, brain, blood vessels, blood, skin, liver, blood vessels and the skeletal muscles. They stay in a non-dividing or quiescent state for years up until they are activated by tissue injury or disease.
The adult stem cells can self-renew or divide indefinitely. Thus it enables them to generate a wide range of types of cells from where they come from or regenerate the whole organ. It is thought that this kind of stem cells is limited in its ability in differentiating based on where they originate, but there is evidence showing that they can also distinguish in turning into other cell types, too.
Embryonic Stem Cells
This stem cell type is derived from the 4 or 5-day old embryo from humans that is in its blastocyst development phase. The human embryos are mostly extras that have been made through in vitro fertilization or IVF clinics wherein some eggs are fertilized within the test tube. However, only one of these fertilized eggs gets implanted in the woman.
The blastocyst stage, in normal pregnancy, goes on until the embryo’s implantation into the uterus in which the embryo is then referred to as the fetus. This usually happens during the tenth week of the gestation period; wherein all the major organs have already been developed.
During the extracting of the embryonic stem cells in the blastocyst stage, it signals in isolating the stem cells which is by placing it in “inner cell mass” from the blastocyst and into the culture dish that contains the nutrient-rich broth. Since they lack the needed simulation for differentiation, they start to divide then replicate while they maintain the ability of turning into any cell type within the human body. In due time, the undifferentiated cells get stimulated in creating specialized cells.
Potency of Stem Cells
These stem cells are classified by its potential in differentiating into different cell types. The embryonic stem cells are considered the most potent of all since they need to turn into every cell type found within the body. Some of its classifications include: