(Noura Mohamed, Pharmacy education committee member )
Stem cells are considered body's raw materials from which all other cells with different functions are generated.
No other body cells can generate new cell types.
Stem cells can divide to form more cells known as daughter cells in the body and in laboratory under special conditions.
They are characterized by:
1- Their ability of self renewal by mitotic cell division.
2- Their ability to differentiate into wide range of body cells such as blood cells, bone, nerves cardiac muscle cells and other organs.
Types of stem cells:
1- embryonic stem cells.
They are obtained from embryo 3 to 5 days known as blastocyst.
2- Non embryonic stem cells (adult stem cells).
They are found in small number with limited ability to give cells with different functions than embryonic stem cells.
3- induced pluripotent stem cell:
They are adult cells altered to gain the properties of embryonic stem cells by genes modifications in adult cells sothat they can reprogram the cells to act as embryonic stem cells.
4- cord blood stem cells and amniotic fluid stem cells:
They are obtained from the umbilical cord after childbirth and can be preserved and frozen in cell blanks to be used in future.
Stem cells can also found in amniotic fluid surrounding the developing baby inside the mother's womb, but more researches are needed to understand its potential uses.
Importance of stem cells for medical fields:
They helped researchers and doctors in studies as:
1- they increase the understanding of new diseases and how they occur by studying the way they differentiate in.
2- they generate healthy cells to replace diseased cells by guiding their diffrentiation into specific cells.
3- they help in testing new drugs safely and effectively as scientists can use some types of stem cells to test drugs.
stem cell therapy :
Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine. It's the use of stem cells to replace tge diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using .
Researchers grow stem cells in a lab. These stem cells are differentiated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells.
The specialized cells can then be implanted into a person. For example,
A person with heart disease, stem cells could be injected into the heart muscle. The healthy transplanted heart muscle cells could then contribute to repairing defective heart muscle.