new treatments offer renewed hope
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the cellular building blocks of the body. Both inside the body and in a laboratory under the right conditions, stem cells can divide and either become more stem cells or other specialized (differentiated) cells in the body such as blood cells, neurons, bone cells, and cardiac cells. Stem cells are truly unique and powerful in that they are the only cells in the body that can generate new cell types.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Regenerative Medicine involves injecting regenerative tissue that includes stem cells, growth factors, and cytokines into the body to help repair and regenerate diseased or damaged tissue. Doctors have been performing stem cell transplants, otherwise known as bone marrow transplants for many years. Stem cell therapy could be the next chapter in organ transplants, since donated organs are in short supply and stem cells are readily available. Researchers are still working to grow stem cells that can be manipulated into specific types of cells, for instance heart cells, that could then repair damaged heart tissue.
Where Do Stem Cells Come From?
Perinatal Stem Cells
Stem cells are found in both amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood, and have the ability to change into specialized (differentiated) cells. Umbilical cord stem cells are obtained from mothers who donate cord blood and umbilical cord tissue after giving birth. More research is needed to understand the full potential of amniotic stem cells.
Adult Stem Cells
The adult body contains stem cells, which aid in routine healing and cell regeneration. However, as we age, the amount of stem cells in the adult body decreases. Also, adult stem cells are more limited in their ability to generate various types of cells in comparison to perinatal and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are often taken from bone marrow or fat to be utilized in stem cell therapy.
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