Different Types of Stem Cells
Different Types of Stem Cells: Their Potential and Uses

Did you know that the average age of the cells in a middle-aged human body could be as low as 10 years? That’s because you have certain cells in your body whose job it is to make new cells to replace ones that are damaged, diseased or simply worn out. These cells are called stem cells, and many researchers believe that they hold almost unlimited potential to developing treatments and cures for many of the diseases, injuries and disorders that affect humans. There are three different types of stem cells, and each of them has a different function and present different potentials.

Stem Cell Types

Most people have heard of embryonic stem cells, but many may not know that there are other types of stem cells as well. Here are short explanations of the different types of stem cells to help you understand what they and their capabilities are.

Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can produce any type of specialized cell in the body. This offers unlimited potential for research into diseases and for exploring new treatments. Scientists learned to grow ESCs in the lab in 1998, but it took more than a decade for them to reach the strict quality standards demanded for use in patient treatment. Because embryonic stem cells started from cells taken from human blastocysts – a very early embryonic stage – there are specific ethical considerations, as well as legal considerations in some countries.

Tissue Stem Cells

Stem cells maintain and repair many human bodily systems throughout life. Tissue stem cells have major differences from embryonic stem cells. Specifically, they have a much more limited range of cell types that they can become.

Blood and Skin Cells

Most people know about two types of stem cell therapies that are commonly used and have been used since the 1970s and 1980s. Bone marrow transplants succeed because bone marrow contains blood stem cells, which can replace the patient’s own diseased bone marrow cells and take over their jobs. Since the 1980s, doctors have used skin stem cells to grow new skin in the lab for burn patients.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are also found in the bone marrow. They differentiated into bone, cartilage and fat and are responsible for repairing bone and cartilage. There are clinical trials investigating the use of MSCs in repairing bone, cartilage and blood vessel damage linked to heart attacks.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers have recently discovered that they can regress – or reprogram – specialized adult stem cells to behave like embryonic stem cells – that is, to differentiate into any type of cell in the body. So far, researchers have generated brain cells from the skin stem cells of patients with neurological diseases, and most recently, rudimentary teeth from iPSCs grown from stem cells extracted from urine.

The newest avenues of research into the different types of stem cells open up exciting new possibilities in medical research, many of them free of the ethical concerns that have hampered progress in the past.

Here are some other sites that you can learn more about the benefits of stem cell therapy and stem cell treatments:

Get Stem Cell Treatments
Get Stem Cell Cures

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