The more we read about stem cells the stronger is our belief that it might be the answer to so many medical conditions. Used in stem cell therapy ( regenerative medicine), stem cells help in repairing or restoring function of damaged, dysfunctional, and/or injured tissue.
As India’s first ISO-Certified stem cell research center, Plexus offers a wide range of regenerative rehabilitation programs for neurological diseases like MND, Parkinson’s, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, and so on.
Through this article, we will help you understand stem cells and their role in regenerative medicine.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are progenitor cells that can transform and/or multiply into specialized cells.
Through a laboratory procedure known as differentiation, stem cells procured from one part of the body can become/grow into other kinds of cells.
Stem cells are the very foundation of every tissue/organ in the human body. The cells in our body have specific roles and functions. Stem cells, on the other hand, are undifferentiated cells that can turn into specific types of cells that our body requires.
Types of stem cells
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs)
Also known as pluripotent stem cells, ESCs are derived from the inner cell mass of an embryo in its early stages of development. These cells are usually grown in laboratory conditions. ESCs are derived from unused embryos that are from an IVF procedure. The embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they are unspecialized cells that do not have any specific characteristics like shape, or gene expression pattern. These cells can be differentiated into any cell type in the body.
Adult stem cells (ASCs)
These are undifferentiated cells procured from fully developed tissues like the brain, bone marrow, etc. Since ASCs are multipotent cells, they have limited ability to differentiate into other types of cells. For instance, stem cells from the liver are most likely to make liver cells only. However, these cells play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the tissue in which they are found. ASCs can be used for tissue repair and regenerative medicine.
Induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs)
These cells have been genetically reprogrammed to exhibit the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. iPSCs are generated by introducing specific types of genes into adult cells. iPSCs can self-renew and also differentiate into any cell type in the body.
Since iPSCs are generated from the patient’s own cells, it significantly reduces the risk of immune rejection.
Mesenchymal adult stem cells (MSCs)
These are adult stem cells. They display anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, self-renewal, cell-division, signaling, and differentiation properties. They have the ability to divide and develop into many specialized cell types in specific organs and/or tissues. They can even become unique stem cell types and can create more stem cells when cultured in a laboratory. MSCs can replace cells that are diseased or damaged.
MSCs are sourced from different types of tissue, like adipose (fat) tissue, bone marrow, blood, dental pulp, umbilical cord tissue, liver, and skin.
The first MSCs were found in the bone marrow and were capable of making bone, cartilage, and even fat cells.
Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation can help slow down the rate of degeneration caused by MND, Parkinson’s and other illnesses.
The classifications of stem cells
Stem cells are classified under 5 categories according to their ability to differentiate into other cell types. The classifications are:
Totipotent – The first few cells that appear when a zygote starts to divide are totipotent stem cells. They have the ability to differentiate into all possible cell types. These cells are also called omnipotent stem cells.
Pluripotent – The cells from an early embryo are pluripotent stem cells. They have the ability to differentiate into almost any cell type.
Multipotent – These cells can differentiate into a closely related family of cells. For example, adult hematopoietic stem cells can differentiate into platelets, red and white blood cells.
Oligopotent – Adult lymphoid and myeloid stem cells are oligopotent cells. They can differentiate into a few different types of cells.
Unipotent – These stem cells can only produce their own type of cells. They are self-renewable and that is why they are also stem cells.
ESCs cannot differentiate into cells in the placenta or those present in the extra-embryonic membrane. This is why EMCs are pluripotent and totipotent.
How does stem cell therapy work?
Stem cell therapy makes use of the self-renewal, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, signaling, and differentiating characteristics of stem cells to bring about positive change within the body.
Stem cells can be administered in the following ways:
- Intrathecal (directly into the spinal canal)
- Inject into problem areas like hips, hands, knees, etc.
Stem cells can turn into neurons and replace the ones lost or damaged. In this way, they are capable of restoring neural function to a point. Many patients after receiving stem cell treatment have shown remarkable recovery in terms of mobility and function.
Stem cell therapy at Plexus
Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre uses autologous mesenchymal stem cells taken from the patient’s own body. The procedure is conducted by Dr. Sadiq, India’s no. 1 stem cell specialist, and his team of highly-skilled and experienced stem cell specialists.
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What is the most common stem cell?
Stem cells are most commonly found in the bone marrow.
What is the strongest stem cell?
Totipotent (omnipotent) stem cells are the strongest.
How many stem cells are there in the human body?
Research indicates that a healthy adult human body can have anywhere between 50,000 to 2,00,000 stem cells.
What diseases can stem cells treat?
Stem cell therapy has improved the quality of life of patients suffering from conditions like diabetes, spinal cord injuries, cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s, and others.
Who cannot donate stem cells?
Individuals who have autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, neurological disorders, or any other health complications cannot donate stem cells.