Stem cells are some of the most promising means to address a host of different diseases and ailments. Having the potential treat cancer and replace nearly any bodily tissue, these cells are indeed proving to be of great value.
While companies such as BioLamina are at the “cutting edge” of such research,how and where are these cells harvested? Let us attempt to answer this question.
From Our Bodies
Interestingly enough, scientists have discovered that organs within the adult body contain a small number of active stem cells. Cells are first extracted from substances such as the blood or the bone marrow. As there are only a small number that can be collected at any one time, these are then cultivated and replicated within laboratory settings.
Another large reservoir of stem cells is found within the amniotic fluid of a pregnant woman. As these cells are involved in the development of the child, some of these cells can again be harvested and grown within the laboratory. The hopes are that they can then be used to treat an infant with birth defects.
“Pluripotent” Stem Cells
As the name hints, this a type of cell that is undifferentiated. In other words, they can be used as veritable “templates” for creating very specified cells. Such an option is currently undergoing a great deal of research, as it is a promising alternative. In many ways, this type can be considered a rather universal building block should a patient require new tissues to be reconstructed after a serious accident, injury or illness.
Other Stem Cells
A fourth way to collect stem cells is to extract them from areas such as the brain or the spinal cord. What is most interesting is that they seem to be able to spontaneously differentiate into other types (for instance, a brain stem cell can mutate into one that supports blood). Although scientists have yet to understand how this occurs, harvesting this variety may provide another viable option.
As research continues to advance, it is likely that collecting and culturing these cells will become much more efficient. In a very real way, it will be quite interesting to see what the future may hold.