When it comes to stem cells, it has always been incredibly important to be clear about their powers. When the research was just being developed it was frowned on by various groups for ethical concerns whether justified or not and that put a monumental halt on the burgeoning science. But progress marches on, and scientists everywhere are finding more and more uses and treatments for stem cells. Now we just need to increase awareness. To that end, this time on the blog we’re looking at the stem cell facts and just the facts ma’am.
Stem Cell Facts
What are Stem Cells and what do they do?
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that can, given the time, replicate themselves through cellular division. Under the right conditions, they can be manipulated into specializing into mature cells with specific functions.
There are 4 Classes of Stem Cells
o In addition to developing into a single mature cell type, they also self-renew.
o These stem cells can turn into any type of cell in the body. When people think of stem cells, these are the ones they most commonly imagine.
o Stem cells that develop into any cell in an embryo and fetus.
o These can create multiple different types of cells within one particular organ or tissue.
Stem Cell Research Uses
The main goal with stem cell research is to build regenerative medicine, using stem cells to treat disease as well as understanding how stem cells function as many diseases are due to abnormal cell function. In understanding the division and replication, researchers believe they can find cures to and treatments for diseases as wide ranging from arthritis to Alzheimer’s. Perhaps their most popular use in research is in clinical trials using adult stem cells.
What’s the Debate?
The ethical debate is concerned with how stem cells are harvested for research purposes. Human embryos can be cloned, stem cells can be extracted from them but destroys the embryo in the process. Cloning human embryos is controversial itself and the possible destruction of the embryo is morally dubious according to some religions. But, that is only in reference to embryonic stem cells.
The adult mesenchymal stem cells (meaning adult stem cells specifically from non-blood tissue) used in Seattle Stem Cell Center’s processes are undifferentiated adult stem cells that are found throughout patients own bodies. There is no ethical or moral dilemma associated with their harvesting and use.
Where are adult stem cells found?
If adult stem cells aren’t a part of the ethical/moral dilemmas circling stem cells then where are they found? Adult stem cells can be found all over the body, as our bodies’ natural method of healing is to proliferate these stem cells and send them to replace cells that are getting worn out. They’ve been found in all sorts of places, the liver, brain, heart, skin, even the teeth! The stem cells we work with at the Seattle Stem Cell Center are all harvested from patient’s fat cells! A simple, easy procedure we do on site in under 20 minutes.
We hope this rundown of some of the basic stem cell facts has increased awareness about the whole ‘stem cell’ thing. There’s a lot to it, and the science is only getting more and more advanced each day, and it’s hard to stay up to date when the foundational knowledge isn’t the most commonly understood.
If you have any other questions about stem cell therapies and how they can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our experts are more than happy to answer any questions and prep prospective patients understand the process and its many benefits.