The application of stem cell technology in disease treatment has attracted the attention of many researchers, doctors and investors in recent years. It promotes stem cell technology to develop and present stem cells found in embryos and also adult bodies.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are the raw material of the body – cells capable of self-renewal, proliferation and develop differentiation into specialized cell types to perform a specific tissue function.
Under proper conditions in the body or in the laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells. These daughter cells can become new daughter cells or specialized (differentiated) cells with more specific functions such as blood cells, brain cells, cardiomyocytes or bone cells. No other cells in the body have the natural ability to create new cell types.
Stem cells are derived from two main sources: mature body tissue and embryos. Scientists are also studying how to grow stem cells from other cells, using “reprogramming” techniques.
Origin of Stem Cells
There are many sources of stem cells but there are currently mainly the following 4 sources:
Adult stem cells
Adult stem cells (ASC) can divide or renew themselves infinitely. This means that they can make different types of cells from the original organ or even complete reconstruction of the original organ. Compared to embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have a more limited ability to create different cell types of the body. This division and regeneration is how skin wounds heal, or organs like the liver can repair themselves after damage.
Stem cells are present inside different types of tissues. Scientists have found stem cells in tissues, including:
- Bone marrow
- Blood and blood vessels
Previously, researchers thought that adult stem cells could only produce similar cell types. However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells can produce many different cells. For example, bone marrow stem cells can produce skeletal or heart muscle cells
Embryonic stem cells
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells (plo-RIP-uh-tunt), meaning they can divide into more stem cells or can become any type of cell in the body. These stem cells come from embryos that are 3 to 5 days old (this stage is called a blastocyst and has about 150 cells).
Blastocyst consists of two parts:
- An external mass of cells becomes part of the placenta
- A mass of cells inside will grow into the human body
Because of the versatility of embryonic stem cells, they should be used to regenerate or repair diseased tissues and organs. However, to have embryonic stem cells must be separated from the blastocysts, although these embryos are artificially generated, they still suffer from ethical issues. Therefore, regarding embryonic stem cells only at the level of research.
Perinatal stem cells
Perinatal stem cells are cells taken from amniotic fluid, umbilical cord, and umbilical cord blood. These stem cells have the ability to transform into specialized cells.
Stem cells from umbilical cord tissue
The umbilical cord tissue connecting the placenta and the fetus contains many different types of stem cells that are in the group of infant stem cells, which can include: Epithelial Stem Cells (ESCs), Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), Endothelial Stem Cells (HUVECs),…
Each type of cell from umbilical cord tissue are pluripotent cells, which can differentiate into cells in the nervous system, skin, cartilage, bones…help support the treatment of pathologies in related organs. The most MSCs collecteds have more advantages from adipose tissue and bone marrow due to their non-invasive, bulk collection, proliferation is easy, young cells are not affected much by the impact of the environment. MSCs from umbilical cord tissue must be collected as soon as the baby is delivered and stored in the right conditions.
Stem cells from umbilical cord blood
Umbilical cord blood contains many hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which can be used to allow angular hematopoietic cells to replace previous bone marrow transplants. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are also collected and stored soon after the baby is born.
Hematopoietic stem cells are used in the treatment of more than 80 different diseases. Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the application of stem cells from umbilical cord blood in the treatment of many serious diseases related to the hematopoietic system.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Induced pluripotent cells, also artificial pluripotent stem cells, are cells made up of somatic or vegetative cells that have been reprogrammed into stem cells by transcription induction. However, scientists do not yet know whether the use of modified adult cells will cause side effects in humans. iPSC cells have huge application potential, however, the cost is very expensive, so it is mainly also at the research stage.