What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are primitive cells in the body that can multiply and mature into various cell types or organs.
Stem Cells can be divided into embryonic stem cells and the “adult” (somatic) cells. Embryonic stem cells are found in the early stages of a developing embryo and although they are probably the most potent of stem cells, their use can be controversial.
“Adult” (somatic) stem cells are stem cells found in the various organs once the body had been formed after the embryo stage. Practically every organ has its own stem cells, for example blood stem cells, fat stem cells, heart muscle stem cells, nerve stem cells, skin stem cells etc. These respective stem cells will grow and mature into their respective cells or organs. In some organs, these stem cells become inactive once the organ is fully developed while others, like blood stem cells are continuously active.
Differentiation of a Stem Cell
Blood stem cells can be found in cord blood, bone marrow and in peripheral circulation (peripheral blood). These blood stem cells will grow and develop into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. These cells perform important functions such as carrying oxygen (red), fighting infections (white) and preventing bleeding (platelets).
Stem cell research is rapidly expanding all over the world to develop new uses and treatments with these cells.