What Are Stem Cell Lines and Why Do Researchers Want to Use Them?
Stem cell lines are not physical lines of stem cells as it might sound. In fact, it’s a touch more complicated than that. It’s important to note that the word “line” is used in a sense similar to that of bloodlines. You see, stem cells have a way of being able to multiply indefinitely. This means they become somewhat immortal once the process begins. Let’s dive a little deeper and start from the beginning.
What is a Stem Cell Line?
Stem cells can be cultivated in a lab. This is usually done by taking a blood sample and placing it in a centrifuge which separates the stem cells out from the other blood components. The concentrated amount of stem cells is then “encouraged” to continue multiplying. Once the desired amount is reached, it’s then used in treatment. However, this isn’t the only way it can be done as stem cells can actually be made outside of a body or by collecting them from an embryo. The way the stem cells are collected or begun isn’t as important as how they basically grow themselves. Whether a stem cell was created in a lab, collected from adult stem cells, or collected from an embryo, all of them literally grow themselves.
Ok, let’s back up and explain what that means. So, stem cells, when they multiply, retain the genetic code from the original cell. This means, even though they keep splitting and making copies of themselves, there are no mutations that can get involved and each is just as strong and useful as the last. They, themselves, contain inherent natural properties which fuel their non-stop propagation. In other words, they don’t need anything else but themselves to do what they do and to keep multiplying.
All of this information is important because it supports the creation of stem cell lines and why they’re so important to researchers and scientists. Since stem cells have this ability, once a group of stem cells (or line of stem cells) has begun cultivating, they become somewhat of an immortal line. The group of cells just keep multiplying and share the same genetic qualities (much like a bloodline, only purer).
Stem cells are also multipotent, which means they can take on the ability of other specialized cells and do their job. This makes these stem cell lines extremely useful when it comes to regenerative and genetic medicine and research. In short, scientists have to isolate certain stem cells for certain jobs. If they’re able to isolate one stem cell and allow it to multiply indefinitely, this saves time and money in a very intricate way.
Stem cell lines are a little difficult to comprehend but, overall, it’s like being able to make an exact replica of something in order to use it exactly as you did the original. Imagine if you didn’t have to do the work to make the copy either, the item just copied itself perfectly every time. Now, imagine that item had to have a ton of itself to regenerate human tissue. You wouldn’t want copies of something similar getting in the way so, you isolate that item and let it copy itself until you have enough to do the job. If you can picture this, you might be able to sort of understand why scientists are head over heels for stem cell lines and why they’re so important to research and regenerative medicine.