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Stem Cell FAQs

Red blood cells

Q.  How Stem Cells in human body can be described?

Ans. Inside the marrow, blood cells start off as young, immature cells called stem cells. Stem cells are cells of the body (somatic cells) which can divide and become differentiated.

These special cells have the ability to turn into different types and can develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. They are the building blocks of  all living things.

When an organism grows, stem cells specialize, and take specific functions. For instance, mature tissues like skin, muscle, blood, bone, liver, nerves, all have different types of cells.

Q. Where are the stem cells found in the human body?

Ans. Adult (somatic) stem cells exist throughout the body after embryonic development and are found inside of different types of tissue. These stem cells can be isolated from the body in different ways, depending on the tissue such as the brain, bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, skin and the liver.

Q. How do we get stem cells?

Ans. Adult stem cells can be isolated from the body in different ways, depending on the tissue. Blood stem cells, for example, can be taken from a donor's bone marrow, from blood in the umbilical cord when a baby is born, or from a person's circulating blood.

Q. What are the characteristics of stem cells?

Ans. Stem cells differ from other kinds of cells in the body. All stem cells regardless of their source have three general properties —

  • they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods
  • they are unspecialized; and
  • they can grow to specialized cell types
Q.  What are the various kinds of stem cells?

Ans.    The stem cells can be classified in two main categories as follows:

  1. Embryonic stem cells (i.e. Somatic Stem cells) come from inner mass cells of human embryos that are three to five days old. Embryonic stem cells can differentiate on their own which means they are able to grow into all derivatives of the three primary germ layers: ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm.
     
  2. Non-embryonic also referred as adult stem cells. These cells are present in adults, children, infants, placentas, umbilical cords, and cadavers. Researches so far does not indicate any risk in using stem these stem cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are produced in the lab by reprogramming adult cells to generate embryonic stem cells features.
Q. What is the meaning of stem cell differentiation?

Ans. Differentiation is the process where an unspecialized cell acquires cellular traits   that allow it to perform specialized functions.

Q. How does a stem cell become a specialized cell?

Ans.    In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells frequently split to restore damaged and destroyed tissues. Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide (through mitosis) to produce more stem cells.

They are found in multicellular organisms. When unspecialized stem cells are induced to become specialized cells (a process called differentiation), they can be used to treat diseases affecting specific organs and tissues.

Q. Why are stem cells important to the body?

Ans. Stem cells regenerate and repair damaged tissue. In a treatment like bone marrow transplant, use of stem cells proved to cure many diseases.

Q.  What are the major alternative sources of stem cells?

Ans. There are two substitute sources of bone marrow stem cells other than the primary source developed in the bone marrow.

PBSC: Cancer patients treated with chemotherapy (particular drugs) stimulates growth of the bone marrow have comparatively huge numbers of PBSC in their blood. The PBSC can be collected and used in for specific stem cells transplantation.

Umbilical Cord Blood: Another source of stem cells is the blood that is found in the placenta of a newborn baby once the umbilical cord is Umbilical cord blood (UCB) has been successfully used as a source of bone marrow stem cells for transplantation in both related and unrelated patients.

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