To start this off, we would first of all look into the definition of stem cells.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into distinct specialized cells and divide to produce more stem cells through the process of mitosis.
They are mostly found in multicellular organisms, and in humans, they can be divided into two broad classes:
- Adult stem cells – They are multipotent stem cells, this means that they can differentiate into a range of other cell types. These adult stem cells can be found in a few locations in the body such as bone marrow, adipose tissue or gonads. Also, they are gotten from the umbilical cord of newborn babies, or their placental matter.
- Embryonic stem cells – These cells are derived from an embryo at a point between fertilization and implantation. At this stage, any of the cells can differentiate to form any tissue in the body. From a medical point of view, the use of embryonic stem cells is still questionable in terms of their safety for the adult body. Ethical restrictions on the use of unborn children’s tissues are also a factor in preventing treatment using embryonic stem cells.
Functions of Stem Cells
The functions of stem cells are numerous judging from their ability to repair other cells and differentiate into new cells.
In adults, stem cells along with progenitor cells act mainly as repair systems for the body. Their main function is the repairing and replenishing of adult body tissues.
Image 1. ALT tag: Functions of stem cells.
In developing embryos, stem cells have the ability to differentiate into all the specialized cells. They could differentiate into endoderm, mesoderm or ectoderm. Stem cells, in general, also function to maintain a normal overturning of regenerative tissues such as blood, skin or intestinal tissue.
How Are Stem Cells Being Used in the Medical Field
Ever wondered what we can do with stem cells? Well, the answer to that question is given below.
Based on their potency and potential for self-renewal, stem cells can be used to treat a number of diseases. The benefits of stem cell uses today ranges from things like wound healing and teeth repair to managing and curing post-stroke, eye diseases, neurological disorders and other conditions that were initially thought to be incurable.
The functions aren’t limited to that, because advances in stem cell research are developing ways to correct a lot of genetic and mutational abnormalities. This could lead to a lot of stem research breakthroughs.
Now, you have been given a broader view of stem cells and their potential, let us dive into the meat of the matter.