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Pluripotent : These cells can turn into almost any cell. Cells from the early embryo are pluripotent. Multipotent : These cells can differentiate into a closely related family of cells.

Successful stem cell therapies are no science fiction anymore

Adult hematopoietic stem cells, for example, can become red and white blood cells or platelets. Oligopotent : These can differentiate into a few different cell types. Adult lymphoid or myeloid stem cells can do this. Unipotent : These can only produce cells of one kind, which is their own type. However, they are still stem cells because they can renew themselves. Examples include adult muscle stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are considered pluripotent instead of totipotent because they cannot become part of the extra-embryonic membranes or the placenta.

Types of Stem Cells

First, with the right stimulation, many stem cells can take on the role of any type of cell, and they can regenerate damaged tissue, under the right conditions. This potential could save lives or repair wounds and tissue damage in people after an illness or injury. Scientists see many possible uses for stem cells. Until now, a person who needed a new kidney, for example, had to wait for a donor and then undergo a transplant. There is a shortage of donor organs but, by instructing stem cells to differentiate in a certain way, scientists could use them to grow a specific tissue type or organ.

As an example, doctors have already used stem cells from just beneath the skin's surface to make new skin tissue. They can then repair a severe burn or another injury by grafting this tissue onto the damaged skin, and new skin will grow back. In , a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital reported in PNAS Early Edition that they had created blood vessels in laboratory mice, using human stem cells.

Within 2 weeks of implanting the stem cells, networks of blood-perfused vessels had formed. The quality of these new blood vessels was as good as the nearby natural ones. The authors hoped that this type of technique could eventually help to treat people with cardiovascular and vascular diseases.

Another Promising Application for Stem Cells: Crohn’s Complications - Mayo Clinic

Doctors may one day be able to use replacement cells and tissues to treat brain diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. In Parkinson's, for example, damage to brain cells leads to uncontrolled muscle movements. Scientists could use stem cells to replenish the damaged brain tissue. This could bring back the specialized brain cells that stop the uncontrolled muscle movements. Researchers have already tried differentiating embryonic stem cells into these types of cells, so treatments are promising.

Scientists hope one day to be able to develop healthy heart cells in a laboratory that they can transplant into people with heart disease.

Stem-cell and genetic therapies make a healthy marriage

Similarly, people with type I diabetes could receive pancreatic cells to replace the insulin-producing cells that their own immune systems have lost or destroyed. The only current therapy is a pancreatic transplant, and very few pancreases are available for transplant. Doctors now routinely use adult hematopoietic stem cells to treat diseases, such as leukemia , sickle cell anemia , and other immunodeficiency problems.

Hematopoietic stem cells occur in blood and bone marrow and can produce all blood cell types, including red blood cells that carry oxygen and white blood cells that fight disease.

Stem Cells Applications in Regenerative Medicine and Disease Therapeutics

People can donate stem cells to help a loved one, or possibly for their own use in the future. Bone marrow : These cells are taken under a general anesthetic, usually from the hip or pelvic bone. Technicians then isolate the stem cells from the bone marrow for storage or donation. Peripheral stem cells : A person receives several injections that cause their bone marrow to release stem cells into the blood. Next, blood is removed from the body, a machine separates out the stem cells, and doctors return the blood to the body. Umbilical cord blood : Stem cells can be harvested from the umbilical cord after delivery, with no harm to the baby.

Some people donate the cord blood, and others store it. For example, scientists have found that switching a particular gene on or off can cause it to differentiate. Knowing this is helping them to investigate which genes and mutations cause which effects. Armed with this knowledge, they may be able to discover what causes a wide range of illnesses and conditions, some of which do not yet have a cure.


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  • Abnormal cell division and differentiation are responsible for conditions that include cancer and congenital disabilities that stem from birth. Knowing what causes the cells to divide in the wrong way could lead to a cure. Stem cells can also help in the development of new drugs. Instead of testing drugs on human volunteers, scientists can assess how a drug affects normal, healthy tissue by testing it on tissue grown from stem cells. There has been some controversy about stem cell research. This mainly relates to work on embryonic stem cells.

    The argument against using embryonic stem cells is that it destroys a human blastocyst, and the fertilized egg cannot develop into a person.


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    • Nowadays, researchers are looking for ways to create or use stem cells that do not involve embryos. Stem cell research often involves inserting human cells into animals, such as mice or rats. Some people argue that this could create an organism that is part human. In some countries, it is illegal to produce embryonic stem cell lines. In the United States, scientists can create or work with embryonic stem cell lines, but it is illegal to use federal funds to research stem cell lines that were created after August Some people are already offering "stem-cells therapies" for a range of purposes, such as anti-aging treatments.

      However, most of these uses do not have approval from the U. Some of them may be illegal, and some can be dangerous.

      What are stem cells, and what do they do?

      Anyone who is considering stem-cell treatment should check with the provider or with the FDA that the product has approval, and that it was made in a way that meets with FDA standards for safety and effectiveness. Article last reviewed by Mon 15 October Visit our Stem Cell Research category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Stem Cell Research. All references are available in the References tab.

      Application of peripheral blood stem cells PBSC mobilized by recombinant human granulocyte colony stimulating factor for allogeneic PBSC transplantation and the comparison of allogeneic PBSC transplantation and bone marrow transplantation. Transfus Apher Sci ; 26 2 Feasibility and safety of peripheral blood stem cell transplantation from unrelated donors: results of a single-center study.

      Bone Marrow Transplant ; 27 1 Isolating adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells from lipoaspirate blood and saline fraction. Organogenesis ; 6 1 Concise review: adipose tissue-derived stromal cells--basic and clinical implications for novel cell-based therapies. Stem Cells ; 25 4 Current applications of adipose-derived stem cells and their future perspectives. Explant culture: a simple reproducible efficient and economic technique for isolation of mesenchymal stromal cells from human adipose tissue and lipoaspirate. Adipose-derived stem cells: current findings and future perspectives.

      Discov Med ; 11 57 Adipose tissue-derived stem cells in clinical applications. Neural differentiation of human adipose tissue-derived stem cells. Human adipose tissue-derived stem cells differentiate into endothelial cells in vitro and improve postnatal neovascularization in vivo.

      Human adipose tissue derived stem cells as a source of smooth muscle cells in the regeneration of muscular layer of urinary bladder wall. Malays J Med Sci ; 20 4 Direct isolation of satellite cells for skeletal muscle regeneration. Muscle satellite cells.