Sep 19, 2010

All about stem cells

What are stem cells
Stem cells are the body's "master" cells that regenerate and turn into the cells that form all of the tissues, organs, and systems in the human body. The different cell types within the body are all derived from such cells- and hence the name. Stem cells are undifferentiated, "blank" cells that do not yet have a specific function. Characteristically, stem cells have a high capacity for self-renewal.

Stem cells have the unique ability to differentiate into a variety of cells. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either 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 nerve cell.

Given the right environment, stem cells can give rise to a number of tissues that constitute the different organs. Also serving as a kind of repair system for the body, stem cells can divide repeatedly and then differentiate and replenish cells within the body. These unique characteristics are the reason why stem cells are considered a breakthrough in regenerative medicine. They have the potential for providing cells and tissues to treat various debilitating, life-threatening diseases.

Stem cells can be derived from various sources such as the bone marrow, embryos obtained by in vitro fertilization, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood and menstrual blood.

Types of Stem Cells
There are three main types of stem cells, which are usually considered for their potential use in research and medicine. They differ in their ability to self-renew:

These stem cells have the potential to become any kind of cell in the body. After an egg is fertilized, it undergoes a series of divisions to become an embryo and later a fetus. The cells that are formed during these first few divisions are totipotent i.e. they can become any cell in the body. Human cells have this capacity only during the first few divisions of a fertilized egg. After 3 - 4 divisions of totipotent cells, these cells will not be able to differentiate into any cell type.

This type of stem cell has the ability to become almost any kind of cell in the body-except the cells of the placenta or other supporting tissues of the uterus. Pluripotent stem cells result after totipotent stem cells undergo the first few divisions. Embryonic stem cells at the blastocyst stage and fetal stem cells are pluripotent.

Totipotent and Pluripotent cells are essential for the development of an entirely new organism, which is why they are found in the early stages of development.

These cells can give rise to several other cell types, but those types are limited to mostly cells of the blood, heart, muscle and nerves. These cells function as a repair system for damaged tissue. Adult stem cells are a good example of multipotent stem cells.

Treatable diseases
Across the world, stem cell transplants have been used since the 1960s to treat a variety of diseases such as:
  • Acute Leukemia
    • Acute Lymphoblast Leukemia (ALL)
    • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
    • Acute Biphenotypic Leukemia
    • Acute Undifferentiated Leukemia
  • Chronic Leukemia
    • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
    • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
    • Juvenile Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (JCML)
    • Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML)
  • Histiocytic Disorders
    • Familial Erythrophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis
    • Histiocytosis-X
    • Hemophagocytosis
  • Inherited Erythrocyte Abnormalities
    • Beta Thalassemia Major
    • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Inherited Immune System Disorders
    • Ataxia-Telangiectasia
    • Kostmann Syndrome
    • Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency
    • DiGeorge Syndrome
    • Bare Lymphocyte Syndrome
    • Omenn's Syndrome
    • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
    • SCID with Adenosine Deaminase Deficiency
    • Absence of T & B Cells SCID
    • Absence of T Cells, Normal B Cell SCID
    • Common Variable Immunodeficiency
    • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
    • X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disorder
  • Inherited Metabolic Disorders
    • Scheie Syndrome (MPS-IS)
    • Hunter's Syndrome (MPS-II)
    • Sanfilippo Syndrome (MPS-III)
    • Morquio Syndrome (MPS-IV)
    • Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome (MPS-VI)
    • Sly Syndrome, Beta-Glucuronidase Deficiency (MPS-VII)
    • Adrenoleukodystrophy
    • Mucolipidosis II (I-cell Disease)
    • Krabbe Disease
    • Gaucher's Disease
    • Niemann-Pick Disease
    • Wolman Disease
    • Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
    • Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS)
    • Hurler's Syndrome (MPS-IH)
  • Inherited Platelet Abnormalities
    • Amegakaryocytosis / Congenital Thrombocytopenia
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders
    • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
    • Hodgkin's Disease
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
    • Refractory Anemia (RA)
    • Refractory Anemia with Ringed Sideroblasts (RARS)
    • Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts (RAEB)
    • Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts
    • Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts in Transformation (RAEB-T)
    • Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML)
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders
    • Acute Myelofibrosis
    • Agnogenic Myeloid Metaplasia (myelofibrosis)
    • Polycythemia Vera
    • Essential Thrombocythemia
  • Other Inherited Disorders
    • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome
    • Cartilage-Hair Hypoplasia
    • Ganzmann Thrombasthenia
    • Osteopetrosis
    • Adrenoleukodystrophy
    • B-Thalassemia
  • Other Malignancies
    • Ewing Sarcoma
    • Neuroblastoma
    • Renal Cell Carcinoma
    • Retinoblastoma
  • Phagocyte Disorders
    • Chediak-Higashi Syndrome
    • Chronic Granulomatous Disease
    • Neutrophil Actin Deficiency
    • Reticular Dysgenesis
  • Plasma Cell Disorders
    • Multiple Myeloma
    • Plasma Cell Leukemia
    • Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia
    • Amyloidosis
  • Stem Cell Disorders
    • Aplastic Anemia (Severe)
    • Fanconi Anemia
    • Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH)
    • Pure Red Cell Aplasia
  • Future Stem Cell Applications
    • Alzheimer's Disease
    • Lupus
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Research is currently on for the following diseases
    • Cardiac Disease
    • Diabetes
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Muscular Dystrophy
    • Parkinson's Disease
    • Spinal Cord Injury
    • Stroke

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Source from LifeCell


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Anonymous said...

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