Stem Cell Therapy
What is a Stem Cell?
At its simplest form, a stem cell is defined as any cell that can differentiate and replicate. Not only does this mean that the cell can multiply, but also that it can turn into different types of tissues. Here we will help educate on the different kinds of stem cells.
The first, and often most familiar, type of stem cell is the embryonic stem cell. These cells are from the embryonic stage and have yet to differentiate. Because of this, these cells change into any body part. These are then called pluri-potential cells. To date, there has been considerable controversy surrounding the use of these cells because of the fact that they are taken from unborn or unwanted embryos. There has also been additional concern here as they have been used in some areas of medicine – particularly, outside the United States – and have been associated with occasional tumor (teratoma) formations. Currently, work is being conducted by various companies to attempt to isolate particular lines of embryonic stem cells for use in the future.
The other, lesser known type of stem cell, is the adult stem cell. These stem cells already exist in a person’s body within various different tissues. There has recently been a significant amount of work done to isolate bone-marrow derived stem cells. Also known as mesenchymal stem cells, these cells come from the mesodermal section of your body. These cells are able to differentiate into cartilage and bone, and probably all other mesodermal elements, such as blood vessels, fat, muscle, and nerve and connective tissue. In addition, bone marrow stem cells are able to be extracted. Because these cells are generally low in number, they are often cultured so that they may be multiplied for future use. The great benefit with these cells is that fat is loaded with mesenchymal stem cells. Fat has been found to have hundreds, if not thousands, of times more stem cells than bone marrow contains. Today’s technology and tools allow us to separate the stem cells from fat itself. Combine the fact that most people have adequate fat supplies and the numbers of stem cells in fat are so abundant, and this allows us to have no need for culturing the cells over a period of days. This means these cells can be used immediately.