Written by DTC Miami
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells which have regenerative tendencies which can help treat many different conditions. Stem cells are not similar to other cells like blood cells, bone cells and the many other types of cells that exist within the human body. According to the National Institutes of Health, “When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.”(1). Stem cells help regenerate other cells because of their ability to divide. Stem cells have two types of distinguishing characteristics:
”They are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity.”
“Under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions(2).”
These two unique characteristics are beneficial to scientific fields because through research and experiment trials, stem cells can be implemented into different treatment plans.
What’s the history of Stem Cells?
Scientist first explored stem cells from two sources humans and animals. In the 1980s and 1990s the discovery of stem cells lead to more research and a better understanding of stem cells. According to the University of Nebraska, Medical Center, “The detailed study of the biology of mouse stem cells led to the discovery, in 1998, of a method to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in the laboratory.”(3). Stem cells have a recent history compared to human history, but through the progress of science, stem cells have been categorized into three categories. Just recently, in 2006 the third type of stem cell was discovered, “induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).” iPSCs are adult cells that can be “reprogrammed” to function like stem cells.
Stem Cells and the Future
Stem cells are still being researched and explored to fully comprehend how and where they can be used. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Human stem cells are currently being used to test new drugs (4).” The future of stem cells relies on research within the many types of medical fields. Stem cells will continue to impact regenerative medicine and the progress of human health.
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC