By now you’ve probably heard of stem cell research and its potential to treat serious illnesses like cancer. However, many people don’t know exactly what they are used for and where they come from. Here we will break down the basics of stem cells and how researchers use them to gain a better understanding of mental and physical illnesses. Keep reading to find out more about stem cell facts.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells that can develop into other cells in the body — daughter cells. Daughter cells either become new cells or become cells that perform a specific function. Some specific functions of stem cells include brain cells, blood cells, heart and muscle cells. Essentially, all stem cell types serve as a repair system for the body.
There are a few ways in which stem cells are collected. One of them is from embryos that are three to five days old. The embryo is called a blastocyst and has around 150 cells.
Another way stem cells are collected is from adult tissues like bone marrow and fat. It is believed that adult stem cells have a limited ability to create other types of cells. However, more research reveals that bone marrow has the ability to create heart muscle and nerve cells.
Stem cells also collected from amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood — known as perinatal stem cells. These stem cells have the ability to form into specialized cells. Perinatal stem cells are collected from pregnant women through a procedure called amniocentesis.
Why Is Stem Cell Research Important?
There’s so much interest around stem cells because they have the potential to help in many areas surrounding physical and mental health. Studying stem cells brings medical researchers closer to learning more about serious illness and finding cures.
To explain, stem cell research increases the knowledge of how and why diseases occur. Observing how stem cells mature into bones, heart, and other organs, scientists gain a better understanding of how serious health conditions develop.
In addition, stem cells help test new drug effectiveness. Before clinical trials are conducted, researchers use stem cells to test the safety and quality of new drugs.
Stem cells are programmed into tissue-specific cells to test new medicine. For example, to test a new nerve medicine, nerve cells are generated. The tests reveal if the new drug had any effect on the cells.
What is Stem Cell Therapy and How Does It Work?
Stem cell therapy, or regenerative medicine, prompts the repair response of diseases of damaged tissue using stem cells. Stem cells are grown in a lab and generated into specializing specific types of cells.
These cells are implanted into a patient. The healthy transplanted cells help to repair defective cells and tissues. Stem cell therapy is used to replace damaged cells by chemotherapy or other types of blood-related diseases. It’s also used to treat conditions like heart failure.
Want More Stem Cell Facts?
There is a wealth of information on stem cells and how they are used in new medical treatments. For more stem cell facts, follow this blog!