You may wonder “why are stem cells important?” whenever you hear the phrase mentioned.
Without knowing what stem cells can do, they may not seem like that big of a deal. In fact, it may seem like it’s just a buzzword to gain attention.
The truth is that stem cells are an important topic of research in the medical community.
Would you like to learn about stem cells and how they may be able to contribute to medical science? If so, read about what they are, where they come from, and what they can do below.
Table of Contents
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are specific types of cells in the human body that can develop into other types of cells, such as brain cells or muscle cells. They also can repair damaged tissues in some situations.
Because stem cells are able to develop into different cell types, they can be used in a wide variety of medical procedures. Research into stem cells and how they work in the body is still ongoing.
Types of Stem Cells
Adult stem cells are in a lot of different organs and tissues. This includes:
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
- Peripheral blood
Stem cells reside in specific areas of each tissue type, which is called the stem cell niche, and are usually available in small amounts. This is the area that the stem cells grow and since they can be used to accommodate the body as needed, they can grow in different types of tissue, but will create more cells of the same type.
Scientists manipulate the stem cells in the lab to become similar to embryonic stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells are another type of stem cell that you may have heard of before. They come from embryos that develop from eggs fertilized in vitro. After fertilization, these are donated for research purposes with consent and can be used for a variety of medical procedures.
Why Are Stem Cells Important?
Stem cells are important in today’s research because they have a lot of properties that are not found in other parts of the body. In addition, there has already been research done that has helped us to learn more about ways stem cells can help us when we are sick.
One way that stem cells can help us learn is by studying how diseases occur. If you watch stem cells mature into cells within the body that match other cells, you can see how different diseases may develop in those same areas.
Another good thing about using stem cells is to replace diseased cells in the body. Stem cells can be guided into becoming a specific type of cell that a person needs when they are sick. Examples of people that may benefit from stem cell therapy are:
- People with type 1 diabetes
- People with Parkinson’s disease
- People with Alzheimer’s disease
- People with heart disease
- People with cancer
- People with osteoarthritis
Stem cells can be grown and then transplanted into the person to help them heal in a different way.
Lastly, another big benefit to using stem cells in research is to find out how safe new drugs are or how effective they are in certain types of people. It helps us create drugs that are safer for our bodies without having to test them on real people.
This is still under review, but stem cell research is an exciting field of medicine! There are many benefits of stem cell research that have not even been discovered yet.
Adult Stem Cell Therapy
Also known as regenerative medicine, this is a type of therapy that helps promote repair in injured tissue using stem cells. In a way, stem cells are used in place of donor organs, which are hard to come by, to help the tissue heal.
Researchers are able to grow stem cells within a lab. These are then specialized to fit a specific type of cells depending on where in the body they need to go to have a positive effect.
After this, the cells are implanted directly into the person where they are experiencing the problem. This way they are able to start healing the correct area right away.
Challenges Being Faced
There is a lot of research being done on stem cells, but there are still not many safe treatments that are available for use. Although we have a lot of information on stem cells now that we did not before, the development of treatments that are safe and effective is still being researched.
Complex diseases, those of which are incurable, will require a complex solution. This is why research into stem cells is so important, but it takes a lot of time.
All stem cell treatments that are considered are experimental until they have passed several stages of trials. This is to ensure they are as safe as possible and offer more benefit than harm.
Stem cell treatments are only meant to work with the help of a specialist. Only specific people that have specific authorizations can do stem cell work that is effective. Certain places, such as these reliable experts, are going to be suited to do this type of work while others are not capable of it.
Future of Stem Cell Research
Although there is a lot of controversy and opinion regarding stem cells, it is hard to argue that it is not an interesting topic to research.
Now that you understand more about why stem cells are important and how they work, you may want to know what the future holds.
If you are curious about ways to better the health of your body and keep yourself healthy longer, check out our posts regarding health and fitness.