What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the foundation cells for every organ and tissue in our bodies. The highly specialized cells that make up these tissues originally came from an initial pool of stem cells formed shortly after fertilization. Throughout our lives, we continue to rely on stem cells to replace injured tissues and cells that are lost every day, such as those in our skin, hair, blood and the lining of our gut. (Source: ISSCR)
- Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have not yet “decided” what type of adult cell they will be.
- They can self-renew and make two new stem cells
- They can differentiate to make multiple types of cells
- They ultimately amplify by expanding the number of differentiated & mature cells
What do people often not realize about Stem Cells?
- Stem Cells are NOT new to science
- Their definition is relatively simple and encompasses a wider range of cells than simply embryonic.
- Their are primarily 3 type of Stem Cells:
1. Adult Stem Cells (ASC) (Somatic Stem Cells)
2. Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC)
3. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS)
- Stem Cells are important in tissue homeostasis (maintenance), repair, and regeneration
- Some Stem Cells (adult) are clinically useful NOW
- Other Stem Cells (ESC, iPS) MAY be clinically useful someday and already are useful in basic research
- All Stem Cell types are important in research
- There are both ethical and political issues with the use of some types of stem cells. UNMC continues to work closely with federal and state legislature as well as the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to promote responsible, transparent, and uniform practices that conform to both federal and state guidelines.