What are Stem Cells?
Stem Cells are the Master Cells of the body. They have a remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as and when the need arises. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell or a brain cell.
Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.
Characteristics of Stem Cell
Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. This entire new field for cell-based therapies to treat disease, is also referred to as regenerative or reparative medicine.
Research on stem cells continues to advance knowledge about how an organism develops from a single cell and how healthy cells replace damaged cells in adult organisms. Stem cell research is one of the most fascinating areas of contemporary biology, with immense potential in the years to come.
Unlike most conventional treatments that treat symptoms, stem cell therapy focuses on correcting and/or replacing damaged or diseased cells.