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Adult Stem Cells- A Primer

Adult Stem Cells

You have probably heard about stem cells because it is all over the media, it is over hyped even in the medical circles, and it is even recommended by some physicians as well. But the term “Stem Cells” is actually vague since there are different types of them.

The most commonly used ones are the embryonic stem cells and the adult  or Somatic stem cells. The former is mired in controversy primarily due to the fact that it came from a would-be baby and the latter is usually used for treatments of various diseases.

In this article, I will go over the stem cells and what you need to know about them because really, they’re pretty interesting. So, let’s dive into the world of Adult stem cells!

What Are Adult Stem Cells?

Adult Stem Cells- A PrimerContrary to its name, the “Adult” stem cells actually do not come from just the adults, but rather, they’re also present in infants as well. They are predominantly found in the body, specifically at your different organs.

They are similar in function with the embryonic stem cells, but their major difference is that the adult stem cells do not have the ability to differentiate into any type of cell in the body. They only turn into the cells where they originate from. The bone marrow stem cells, for example, are quite common because they’re used mainly as a medical treatment.

Since they come from the bone marrow, whenever someone is transplanted with bone marrow stem cells, they turn into the stem cells that will trigger the production of the blood cells that are commonly found in your body.

They can also be found in the different organs in your body as well. It is important to note, however, that in some organs, there are barely any stem cells or there are none at all. For example, the heart doesn’t nearly have as much stem cells to that of the bone marrow. Therefore, if a person suffers a heart attack, they won’t be able to heal their damaged heart muscles without transplantation.

Precursors

Before adult stem cells turn into specialized cells- cells that have a specific function, they are known as Progenitor Cells. They have the ability to turn into specific cells, but they do not have the ability to divide or proliferate indefinitely.

The Research

To this day, scientists are still researching more about the adult stem cells. In fact, because its extraction doesn’t affect the life of the person, scientists are finding ways to turn somatic stem cells into what is known as the Pluripotent Stem Cells.

Adult Stem Cells- A PrimerThese stem cells basically have all the characteristics of embryonic stem cells, only that they are acquired from a grown person and not from an embryo. If this happens, this would really appease and alleviate the controversy that surrounds the use of embryonic stem cells.

This type of cell is also being researched because the scientists feel that we haven’t unlocked its full potential yet. Who knows, we might come up with a cure for the currently “untreatable” diseases such as blindness, certain types of cancers, among others.

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