All living things are composed of cells. The human body, for instance, is made up of trillions of cells. These cells include types such as muscle, brain, bone, and blood cells. The master cells that can generate all of these other cell types are known as stem cells.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells represent a unique class of cells that has the potential to develop into many different types of cells found in the body. Only stem cells have the ability to renew themselves as well as to generate other cell types with specialized functions.
Where Are Stem Cells Found?
Embryonic stem cells come from an embryo, or blastocyst, and they have the versatility to become any type of cell. Adult stem cells come from adult tissue, and they are more limited in their ability to create different cell types. Researchers have also found that stem cells exist in amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood; such cells must be collected at birth and then preserved in order to be used in future stem cell treatment Chardon Oh.
How Can Stem Cells Treat Diseases?
In the lab, researchers are able to manipulate stem cells to grow into the specific kind of cell that is needed to treat a particular disease. Once the cells have become specialized, they can then be implanted into the patient. These healthy, transplanted cells can help to repair the diseased tissue or defective muscle. This method allows doctors to avoid the need for donor organs that would be required when performing a traditional organ transplantation.
Why Are Stem Cell Lines Useful?
A single stem cell can be cultured, or grown under laboratory conditions, to produce a group of cells that are all descendants of the same original stem cell; this group is referred to as a stem cell line. Because the cells continue to grow but do not become specialized, a stem cell line can be used to create more stem cells. The intention is to maintain cells with no genetic defects that can be shared among researchers or frozen and stored for later use.