Stem cells have become an important aspect to regenerative medicine and the medical world in general. However, there’s not just one type of stem cell, there are several. Each comes from a different part of the body and each has their own strength or use. For example, one type of stem cell will work better when dealing with nerves than it does when dealing with regrowing a bladder from scratch.
Adult Stem Cells (Non-embryonic)
Although found in all ages, adult stem cells reside in developed organs. Healthline states, “They’re used by the body to repair and replace damaged tissue in the same area in which they are found.” This may sound a little confusing so let’s make it more simplistic. One of the more popular uses for stem cells is a bone marrow transplant. Adult stem cells are harvested from bone marrow and transplanted into someone else’s body to produce healthier bone marrow or, red and white blood cells. These same adult stem cells can’t be introduced into another area to create something else such as liver tissue.
Embryonic Stem Cells
These types of cells can only be harvested during in-vitro fertilization at the three to a five-day mark. This is a process that’s done in a lab as an embryo is grown artificially. Although these are a little trickier to harvest, they are one of the more universal types of stem cells. This means, when introduced, these stem cells can “transform” into any other type of cell needed. Adult stem cells can somewhat do this but, they’re not quite as adaptive as embryonic stem cells.
Cord Blood Stem Cells
This type of stem cell is harvested from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. Once the cord is cut, these cells are harvested, if desired. Many people have started choosing to have these cells harvested in order to freeze them and store them for later. Simply because these cells can be a vital help or cure if a child gains cancer or a similar medical issue down the road. Doctors can take that child’s saved cord blood stem cells and construct a treatment out of them. This is more specific to blood cancers.
Induced Stem Cells
In newer research, scientists have found a way to convert adult stem cells to act more like embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are more adaptive and can adjust to be just about any cell they need to be. Adult stem cells are not usually as adaptive, however, scientists can just reprogram the cell. These more highly adaptive cells are called “pluripotent.”
There are a lot more specifics when it comes to stem cells. However, this is a simple breakdown of the types of stem cells doctors and scientists are currently working with. There is worldwide research currently happening where stem cells are concerned because of the huge promise they’ve already shown and continue to show in the field of medicine.