Stem Cells Definition
Stem cells can be defined simply as cells which are not specialized in any specific tissue or organs. In other words, stem cells have not differentiated into other cell types to form tissues and organs. They are the base or foundational cells to develop into cells which specialized in certain functions. Another distinguishing characteristics of stem cells is their ability to undergo division, giving rise to more stem cells. This is known scientifically as the ability to self-regenerate. The way stem cells self-regenerate is to divide and produce two stem cells with the exact characteristics. This is what happens initially. As they undergo further self-regeneration, they soon produce one stem cell and one cell which has more differentiation or specialization.
The significance of stem cells in their application to the human body and human health boils down to the two important characteristics of differentiation and self-regeneration. Imagine how powerful they can be if stems cells can be developed into heart cells, especially when someone’s heart is doomed to fail. Or, for someone with damaged brain cells or nerve cells, wouldn’t it be extremely great news if stem cells can develop new brain cells or nerve cells for the person. Indeed, the potential and possibilities of exploiting stem cells for medical science and health science are enormous. Many untreatable diseases and ailments may in the near future become curable. It may only be a matter of years to a decade when many patients will be healed from chronic lifestyle illnesses.
Types of Stem Cells
Stem cells are classified into various types based on their ability to undergo differentiation into different cell types. In other words, their classification, and hence their name, is derived from their potential to develop into one, two or several other cell types. For example, oligopotent stem cells can divide and produce 5 types of blood cells, including monocytes and macrophages. Totipotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate themselves into all cell types. Pleuripotent stem cell is able to develop into all cell types, except cells of the embryonic membranes. Scientists have identified the various stem cells so that targeted research can be performed to discover specific applications to the human health and disease treatments. Understanding the specific types of stem cells will help applying the right type of stem cells to the appropriate condition or illness.
Stem Cells in Human Development
The best way to understand stem cells is probably by looking at ourselves. You and I are formed from stem cells. The first stem cell that appears before a fetus develops is known as zygote. When a sperm cell penetrates an egg cell from the mother, a zygote is formed which contains all the genetic information required to develop a human being. In a way, the zygote is the superior stem cell, having the ability to divide and develop into all cell types. From the zygote, a who;e pool or mass of different stem cells are formed, providing the fetus the necessary stem cells to develop various parts of the human body.
Once we understand how the master stem cell, the zygote, enables the development of a human being, it is not too difficult to imagine the potential to exploit stem cells for the regeneration of damaged organs or tissues in an adult. The question lies in whether we can exploit the ability of stem cell for whatever treatment objectives we wish to accomplish.
Stem Cells For Organ Regeneration and Repair of Tissues
We who are adults also have stem cell in our body, though the quantity is much less compared to when we were a child. Currently, the most advanced stem cell therapy is to make use of our own stem cell, though more matured and less in quantity, to repair tissues or rebuild organs. This is probably the most advanced and sophisticated medical treatment in today’s medical world. However, only certain areas of treatment have gone through clinical trials and have been applied successfully to actual treatment. Certainly, such mode of treatment will not be cheap and will not be accessible to the majority of people. Stem Cell Malaysia will address this issue in upcoming articles. For most of us or the majority of people, we definitely want to tap into this effective therapy using stem cell but the price must be affordable and accessible.
Today, there is an enormous amount of research being carried out on stem cell therapy. And, rightly so, this will be the direction of medical research for the benefits of disease treatment. Medically, stem cell therapy is often organ or tissue specific. There exist another broader and much more relevant to most people is therapy for the entire body using stem cell. This is something which you and I, with or without major illness, will be interested in as long as the price involved is not too obscene. In other words, the majority of people will take keen interest if stem cell therapy can restore general health as well as for beauty purposes. In fact, many wealthy individuals have been using stem cell for anti-aging or beauty such as botox through the ages.
The field of stem cell research on stem cell therapy is an exciting area which will benefit most of us who are able to live reasonably healthy in the coming years or so to witness the breakthrough application of this medical treatment. We hope you will return soon as we talk more about stem cells and related exciting development.