The Four Types of Stem Cells and What They Can Do

The Four Types of Stem Cells and What They Can Do

There are four types of stem cells, which are defined by the place from which they are harvested. Each type of cell has the potential to be useful in the regenerative treatment of various diseases, disorders, and injuries. The four types are:

• Adult Stem Cells
• Perinatal Stem Cells
• Embryonic Stem Cells
• Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Adult and perinatal stem cells are often used today due to the fact that they are easily harvested and have been found to be very effective. Here’s an overview of each type.

Adult Stem Cells

These are found in adults in various parts of the body. The most commonly harvested ones are found in bone marrow and fat. Although they are seen as having limited ability when compared to embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have been used very successfully in healing wounds, treating arthritis, repair of knees and joints, and other musculoskeletal injuries. Plus, it’s been found fairly recently that these cells have a great capacity for differentiation, meaning they can be used for a wide range of health problems, from those related to ligaments, tendons, and joints, and, in the future, in treating heart issues and neurological challenges.

Perinatal Stem Cells

Perinatal stem cells are found in amniotic fluid. They are harvested from a pregnant mother who has agreed to the process. The cells may be taken when an amniocentesis procedure is performed on an expectant mother. This is a test used to check to see if the baby a mother is carrying may have any abnormalities. These cells have the ability to readily transform into other cells, making them very powerful agents in the arena of regenerative medicine. Perinatal stem cells have been very useful in treating everything from tennis elbow to arthritis.

Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells, which are considered to be some of the most powerful and versatile available, are harvested from early stage embryos, which have been formed through the in vitro fertilization of a woman’s egg. Due to the fact that these cells are taken from human embryos there is great debate as to the ethics of this process. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health created guidelines concerning the use of embryonic stem cells in research and how these cells may be donated.

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, which means they can divide to create more cells and that they can differentiate into any type of cell found in the human body. The rich attributes of this kind of stem cell offers us a wide range of possible applications, which may include the repair and regeneration of diseased or damaged organs.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells are adult stem cells that have been altered in the laboratory and reprogrammed to give them properties found in embryonic stem cells. This is done in order to make adult stem cells behave more like embryonic ones, making them more versatile. It’s not known yet if the procedure of altering these cells has any ill or unintended effects. In experimental use, scientists have been able to take regular adult connective tissue cells and alter them so that they become functional heart cells. Animals with heart failure that have been used in testing have experienced improved heart function and have seen their survival time extended.

Stem Cells Now Being Used in Treatment

Adult and embryonic stem cell therapies are currently being used to treat various conditions related to ligament, tendon, joint, muscle, and bone damage and disease. They’re also being used for wound healing. As more research is conducted, the power of these cells will become even clearer and the art of healing could involve a very different process than the type that we commonly experience today.

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