What are Stem Cells and How Do They Work in the Body? A Guide - An online health& Fitness Blog to know more about health, fitness & food.

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What are Stem Cells and How Do They Work in the Body? A Guide


Often when we hear the words stem cells, it’s in a controversial context within the news. But many people don’t understand what they are or how they work. In just the last couple of decades, stem cell research has advanced tremendously, opening up new treatment opportunities for many people.

So, just what are stem cells?

What Are Stem Cells?

The human body is made up of many different types of cells, stem cells being one of them. Most cells are specialized in some way. By this we mean, they perform a particular function for our body.

Stem cells have a couple of unique properties that other cells don’t. They can divide multiple times to produce new cells and they can change into other types of cells. The latter process is known as differentiation.

Researchers have found a few different sources for stem cells.

Embryonic Stem Cells

As the name suggests, these stem cells are derived from embryos. Embryonic stem cells have previously been used for research purposes. They have only been made available for treatments in clinical studies.

Embryonic stem cells have the ability to turn into any cell in the body, out of over 200. This is one of the many reasons why researchers find this source so appealing despite its controversies.

Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cells are less able to differentiate. They can turn into other types of cells, but not as many different types. They can replenish specific cells, depending on the specific tissue from which they are sourced.

This isn’t to downplay their ability by any means. Adult stem cells are still able to differentiate into bone, cartilage, and tendon cells to name a few.

Adult stem cells have been used to help scientists study how diseases progress, for drug testing purposes, and in regenerative therapies.

Induced-Pluripotent Stem Cells

Induced-pluripotent stem cells (IPS cells) are adult cells, most often skin or blood cells. These cells are extracted from an individual and reprogrammed to become embryonic stem cells. Once they’re reprogrammed, they can be developed into any kind of cell.

IPS cells are a relatively new idea and are still being researched. Which is to say, scientists aren’t exactly sure what their potential is yet. Research is still focusing on whether IPS cells can be used instead of embryonic stem cells with the same success.

What Are Stem Cells Used For?

The most common use of stem cells is for research and stem cell therapy. We’ve touched on the various research purposes already, so we’ll focus on stem cell therapy.

Because of the unique abilities of stem cells, that makes them an incredible tool for doctors to help sick patients. Stem cell therapy can help treat a range of conditions, from traumatic injuries to heart disease. They can even help cancer patients, not to treat cancer itself, but to help replenish the cells that may have been diminished through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

In stem cell therapy, the dose of cells is given in two ways. It can be in the form of a stem cell injection, which is given at the site of damage. This is most commonly used for injuries to rebuild tissue or cartilage.

The other way is through stem cell infusion. These are given through an IV drip, directly into the bloodstream.

Watch This Space

Though you now know the answer to what are stem cells and how do they work, this answer will change. As research continues into the potential of stem cells, particularly IPS cells, scientists are bound to find new therapies and opportunities.

You can keep up to date with the latest in health and technology on our blog.

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