What on earth are pluripotent stem cells?
If you've been wondering about what on earth pluripotent stem cells are, then this is the article for you. We'll look at what they are, what they do and most importantly why they are not the answer to all our health issues. By the end, you'll have a great understanding and will know all about them.
First, let's look at what they are. Pluripotent stem cells are found in relatively small numbers in the body in various tissues and umbilical cord blood. Much of the research has been to identify their differentiation potential and we have even seen procedures whereby umbilical cord stem cells have been re-injected into patients. They do not attract the same controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells, and because they are derived from a born human being, are also classified as adult stem cells.
Next, let's look at what they do. For most pluripotent adult stem cells, their ability to regenerate is limited to the tissues they are taken from. For example, stem cells taken from the skin will only become skin cells. Injecting them into the liver, will not result in new liver cells. Researchers are trying to find a way to change these pluripotent adult stem cells to become any cell of the body.
Finally, let's look at why pluripotent stem cells are not the answer to all our health issues. As we have already seen, PSC taken from skin for example, cannot become new cells of the liver. This won't help people with cardiovascular disease or degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's. The answer lies in another type of adult stem cells -- the ones from our bone marrow.
For years, we've used these successfully to treat leukemia and blood/bone cancers by transplanting them into patients. The newest research however, indicates there are some 150 million adult stem cells in our bone marrow and that as stem cells that can become any type of tissue, they represent the renewal system of the body.
So there you have it, everything you wanted to know about pluripotent stem cells. We've looked at what they, what they do and finally why they are not the answer to our health problems. All the latest research points to adult stem cells from our own bone marrow being the natural renewal system of our bodies, so all we need to do is get more of them to release into our bloodstream.
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