Although there are countless types of stem cells, there are only three classes. Many are familiar with the embryonic cells, adult cells, then all the various offshoots of these types of stem cells. However, where people get confused is that there are types of stem cells and then classes of stem cells. The class of a stem cell basically states what it’s capable of in terms of what area it can be used in the body and how it can be used to treat issues.
Pluripotent Stem Cells
When looking at stem cells, there are few that can tackle every portion of the body. Most of the time, in order for a stem cell to treat a specific area of the body, it needed to be pulled from the specific area of the body. In other words, bone marrow stem cells can’t be used to regrow bladder tissue simply because it’s not the same function within the cells. However, pluripotent stem cells are known as the “master cells.” This is because they have the ability to produce whatever cell they need to be, from all three layers of the body, in order to repair an issue. These cells are self-renewing, which means they can continue to make more of themselves.
This is beneficial because that means these cells have the ability to be used anywhere they need to be. They have zero limitations when it comes to treatments or therapies because they can generate and grow as needed, when introduced into a damaged area of the body. What’s also neat about these cells is that they can be induced which means they can be created from other adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are harvested and then enhanced in a lab process, effectively producing pluripotent cells.
Multipotent Stem Cells
Most adult stem cells represent multipotent cells. This means they have the ability to renew themselves as specialized cells for various portions of the body. These cells come from pluripotent cells but are more limited than pluripotent. This is because they’re not as all-encompassing as pluripotent cells for the fact that they can’t cover every tissue or cell. Most of the stem cells used in therapies are adult stem cells, making them a very beneficial cell classification.
Pluripotent cells are harder to have in bulk and not as easy to get access to. However, multipotent cells are much easier to harvest and can often be taken straight from the patient who’s being treated in the first place. This is why these cells are so beneficial. Although not as far-reaching as pluripotent, they’re far-reaching enough that they work for a wide variety of treatments and therapies.
There is only one type of stem cell that’s considered totipotent and that’s a stem cell from an embryo only a few days old. This is the master of all cells. Not only does it have the ability to create all cells produced in the body, but it also can produce extraembryonic and placental cells which neither of the other classes is able to do. This cell class is beneficial because it is the god of all stem cells. It can do far more than the other stem cells, but it’s also the hardest to retrieve since it has to be collected at a very specific time after fertilization occurs.