Stem cells arise after fertilization and they are capable of dividing in to any kind of cells found in the human body. These cells divide at faster rate than any other cells and are responsible for the growth of the zygote from just a mare cell to a fully grown adult. Stem cells are normally quite without any act and only spring in to action when they are needed for repair and other body functions. Stem cells are capable of self renewal; staying for long periods of time in undifferentiated state. This paper will evaluate the nature of stem cells.
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Stem cells are the most important cells for human being development. Without these cells, the fertilized egg would not develop in to embryos which would in turn not develop in to adults. Stem cells are known to differentiate in to any type of cells of the human body. Unlike the specialized cells, stem cells are not functional all times. They start acting when there is need to form new cells for instance after injury. Stem cells usually divide in to two daughter cells. One of the cells can divide and specialize further to make any cell type. The other cell does not divide and remains as a stem cell to produce more cells in future when there is need. Some organs like the liver are versatile and are able to produce cells exactly like the ones in this organ.
Stem cells play a pivotal role in the development of the embryo after fertilization. When fertilization takes place, the most versatile stem cells differentiate rapidly forming the blastocyst which is ball like. The outer part of the blastocyst forms the placenta while the inner cell mass part forms all the other body tissues and organs. When isolated and grown in the laboratory, the inner mass cells are known as the embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can also be produced by in vitro fertilization in the laboratory. However, these cells do not require to be implanted in to a woman. Since there is need for continued research about stem cells, some countries made it legal to donate stem cells to research institutions. In such a scenario, a pregnant woman accepts the removal of the inner mass cells from a blastocyst.
Embryonic stem cells are of invaluable importance to scientists and researchers. Researchers can use a single embryonic stem cell to generate millions of cells which are used for many studies. This ability is based on the concept that stem cells divide but only one of the two cells differentiates and the other remains in unspecialized state and can thus divide to produce cells when there is need. Stem cells allow researchers to get a lot of information on diseases and their mechanism of action. They also get to study human body development with a lot of ease. By this researchers would be able to get cure for the many persistent diseases easily. Since stem cells are capable of differentiating to any cell type with the right chemical stimulations, they can be used for organ transplants and replacement.
Embryonic stem cells can be grown in laboratories in fertility clinics. They are usually retrieved from very young embryos during the blastocyst stage which is usually between the fourth and sixth day of pregnancy. Cells from the inner mass cells of the blastocyst are isolated and placed in laboratory dishes with all the essential nutrients. The few cells isolated are capable of dividing in to millions and millions of stem cells within a short period of time. Embryonic stem cells from a single stem cell form what is called a cell line. To make cell lines successfully, each cell has to be examined carefully to ensure that it is formed correctly with the correct number of chromosomes. Screening tests are done before the cell can be used to make cell lines.
Stem cells can be obtained from adults as well. Stem cells from adults are commonly known as tissue specific stem cells since each adult cell can only produce a limited set of specialized cells. Stem cells are located practically in every part of an adult. However, only a few of those cells can be isolated successfully. Stem cells in the bone marrow and umbilical cord are the easiest t isolate in adults. These cells are also known as hematopoietic stem cells. Hematopoietic stem cells have been used for a long time in various therapies to cure diseases such as leukemia. This is usually done through bone marrow transplantation. There are other tissue specific stem cells in an adult for instance epithelia and epidermal cells. They are hard to isolate and study because they are located deep in the tissues. Interest in these two cell types is because of their adaptation. Epidermal tissues continually repair the worn out skin tissues while the epithelia cells continually renew the gastrointestinal lining.
Tissue specific cells usually produce specialized cells. However, how they differentiate into specialized cells is not well known. Most of these cells are known to differentiate but whatever triggers their action is not known making their study limited. Injury of some of adult tissues is one of the few known stimulus of specialization of adult stem cells. Adult cells go though a number of divisions before they are fully differentiated. Progenitor cells are stem cells in an adult may lose their unspecialized ability. One amazing characteristic of stem cells is their ability to communicate with the neighboring cells. This is what is commonly known as the stem cell niche. They send and receive signals from these cells and allow them to migrate to areas that need cell division. One of the stimuli for their migration can be an injury. These cells can move to any part of the body and become any type of cell.
Nature of stem cells makes them to be cells of invaluable importance to human beings. Stem cells are cell that have potential to turn the medical field around. They give invaluable knowledge on the development of the human body and disease mechanism.
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