Stem cell – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: October 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide (through mitosis) to produce more stem cells. They are found in multicellular organisms. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all the specialized cellsectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm (see induced pluripotent stem cells)but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues.

There are three known accessible sources of autologous adult stem cells in humans:

Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood just after birth. Of all stem cell types, autologous harvesting involves the least risk. By definition, autologous cells are obtained from one's own body, just as one may bank his or her own blood for elective surgical procedures.

Adult stem cells are frequently used in medical therapies, for example in bone marrow transplantation. Stem cells can now be artificially grown and transformed (differentiated) into specialized cell types with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves. Embryonic cell lines and autologous embryonic stem cells generated through Somatic-cell nuclear transfer or dedifferentiation have also been proposed as promising candidates for future therapies.[1] Research into stem cells grew out of findings by Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till at the University of Toronto in the 1960s.[2][3]

The classical definition of a stem cell requires that it possess two properties:

Two mechanisms exist to ensure that a stem cell population is maintained:

Potency specifies the differentiation potential (the potential to differentiate into different cell types) of the stem cell.[4]

In practice, stem cells are identified by whether they can regenerate tissue. For example, the defining test for bone marrow or hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is the ability to transplant the cells and save an individual without HSCs. This demonstrates that the cells can produce new blood cells over a long term. It should also be possible to isolate stem cells from the transplanted individual, which can themselves be transplanted into another individual without HSCs, demonstrating that the stem cell was able to self-renew.

Properties of stem cells can be illustrated in vitro, using methods such as clonogenic assays, in which single cells are assessed for their ability to differentiate and self-renew.[7][8] Stem cells can also be isolated by their possession of a distinctive set of cell surface markers. However, in vitro culture conditions can alter the behavior of cells, making it unclear whether the cells will behave in a similar manner in vivo. There is considerable debate as to whether some proposed adult cell populations are truly stem cells.

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, an early-stage embryo.[9] Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 45 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50150 cells. ES cells are pluripotent and give rise during development to all derivatives of the three primary germ layers: ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. In other words, they can develop into each of the more than 200 cell types of the adult body when given sufficient and necessary stimulation for a specific cell type. They do not contribute to the extra-embryonic membranes or the placenta.

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Stem cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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