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The term "stem cells" has become part of the mainstream lexicon, likely to be overheard in conversations anywhere from a baseball game to cocktail get-togethers. But what exactly are these cells?
Along with phrases such as "that's just immoral" or "stem cells could be the end-all cure," one could easily weave in some technical tidbits about these microscopic, yet significant, cells.
Stem - Cells - Engine - Cells - Regeneration
Stem cells are considered the "engine" cells of regeneration in that they are self-renewing and able to duplicate, or clone, themselves. These special cells are used in the rapidly growing field of regenerative medicine to halt or even reverse chronic diseases. Regenerative medicine seeks to repair or replace tissues or organs that have been damaged by trauma, disease or congenital defects, according to the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
Eight dead gray whales have washed up in the same area of northern California in less than two months.
Types - Stem - Cells - Embryonic - Cord
There are three types of stem cells: embryonic, umbilical cord (also known as mesenchymal, or MSC), and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are considered pluripotent, meaning they can give rise to all of the cell types that make up the human body. Cord and adult stem cells are multipotent, which means that they are able to develop into more than one cell type, but they are more limited than pluripotent cells, according to NYSTEM (New York Stem Cell Science).
Adult stem cells — which can be taken from bone marrow, blood or fat — are mostly free of ethical controversy, but they have limited potential. As we get older, not only do our stem cells lose functionality, but we have far fewer of them. Researchers estimate that newborns have 40 times more stem cells in their bone marrow compared to a 50 year old, according to a 2009 study in...
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