Stem Cells are undifferentiated cells, and when required, they can differentiate into any specific type of cell. They are specialised cells with a unique ability to give rise to specifically differentiated daughter cells. The stem cell also acts as a precursor for daughter stem cells. Although stem cells differentiate into different other types of cells, they have no specific function.
Types of stem cells are there, and what are their applications?
There are different types of cells in the human body which develops into various organs and bones. The Stem cells differentiate and give rise to different cells to form specific organs. The zygote formed after fertilisation of egg and sperm is the first cell which differentiates later to form different organs.
There are four main types of stem cells which include:
Totipotent stem cells are the first stem cells. These stem cells not only differentiate to form body cells but also form extra-embryonic structures like umbilical cord and placenta. These cells can produce different types of body cells.
Pluripotent stem cells have a self-generating ability. The Pluripotent cells are capable of developing in any type of body cells but do not differentiate to form extra-embryonic structures like umbilical cord and placenta. These stem cells develop during the blastocyst stage of embryo development. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent.
They are harvested before or during the blastocyst stage of the foetus before the embryo embeds into the womb. Harvesting embryonic cells is controversial. Mostly because of ethical reasons and harvesting embryonic cells is illegal in many countries. Embryonic stem cells are rarely used to treat disease as the administration of these cells increases the risk of tumour formation (mostly non-cancerogenic tumours called teratomas). However, scientists extract these embryonic cells for research. Scientists are interested to learn about pluripotent cells and the mechanism by which it differentiates into a heart cell or muscle cell for example. Scientists believe that if we understand these mechanisms of differentiation, we will be able to use an embryonic stem cell to grow organs in a lab.
Multipotent cells or adult stem cells:
Multipotent stem cells or adult stem cells are present in small groups in various organs of the body. This type of stem cell has a limited ability to differentiate. Adult stem cell only differentiates to a different type of cells of the organ of its origin. These stem cells divide either to form a new adult stem cell or a specialised cell of the organ where they are present. Mostly, the adult stem cells replace old and damaged cells.
Induced pluripotent Stem Cells:
These cells are formed in the lab by inducing or cause a change of normal body cells to become pluripotent cells. This type of cells can copy themselves and multiply in the lab and can be programmed to become specific cells. The National Eye Institute is just launching a trial to treat macular degeneration. It is the most common cause of blindness in the elderly. This technique is also promising to treat many other medical conditions.
Why has usage of umbilical cord cells become controversial?
The specialised Adult multipotent stem cells, found in our body, is commonly used for treatment. Umbilical cord stem cells are the most common source of multipotent stem cells. However, the use of umbilical cord cells has become increasingly controversial. Freezing umbilical cord cells look like a brilliant idea for parents, but freezing destroys the cells, thus reducing its benefit. Also, umbilical cord blood may not necessarily be a tissue match if it is provided by donor bank to a recipient. As the blood is coming from another human being, there is a risk of rejection and a chance of contracting transferable diseases. Blood banks test all their blood sample for all transferrable diseases. However, in the USA, few people reported receiving infected blood.
Nevertheless, some doctors believe umbilical cord blood cells are superior to adult stem cells. Because umbilical cord cells are fresher and cord blood contains a higher concentration of stem cells. Unlike adult stem cells which are coming from the patient’s body.
Which type of adult stem cell is commonly harvested for stem cell therapy?
Adult stem cells are multipotent and present in many organs of the body. These adult Stem Cells, when harvested and administered under the guidance of a specialist, help in healing injuries and other joint conditions.
Haemopoietic stem cells, found in the bone marrow, are the most common type of stem cells. These stem cells differentiate into other blood cells only. Doctors only use haemopoietic stem cells for a bone marrow transplants.
Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into bone, cartilage, fat and soft tissue. And therefore they are a vital ingredient to treat musculoskeletal conditions. Mesenchymal stem cells are found in the bone marrow and fatty tissue. These adult stem cells are essential for treating several joint conditions. There is hardly any risk of infection or reaction, as mesenchymal stem cells are coming from your own bone marrow or fatty tissue, thus making it very safe for use.
At Medica Stem Cells Clinics we only use Adult Stem Cells. Our Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) therapy and Mesenchymal Cell (MC) Therapy uses a patient’s own stem cells to help repair damaged tissues and repair injuries. We mostly use SVF and MC therapies for reducing joint pain, increasing motion and flexibility, and treating tendon and ligament tears.