Biology of Stem Cells

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Biology of Stem Cells

"Ameliorate the quality of life using stem cells"

Stem cells are primitive undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into specialized cells. They are found in almost all organs functioning as repair and regeneration of damaged tissues.

They are broadly classified into 3 types:

1. Embryonic stem cells (ESC)
2. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)
3. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC)

1. Embryonic Stem cells

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Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent cells meaning that they can differentiate into all three germ layers viz., Mesoderm, Ectoderm and Endoderm. They are derived from the inner cell mast of blastocyst stage of embryo. They have varied application in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering but due to their ethical issues and teratoma formation, they are least used for any stem cell based therapy and intensive research is going around the world to make it use of their potential.

2. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)

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iPSC are similar to embryonic stem cells but they are genetically modified adult cells to form stem cell characteristics. First developed in 2006 by Japanese scientist, they reprogrammed four transcription factors can convert normal mature adult cells to pluripotent stem cells. The advantage of iPSC is it has the same potential as embryonic stem cells but it doesn’t need to destroy an embryo. On the other hand the major disadvantage is formation of iPSC in lab condition is slow taking weeks to obtain pluripotency.

3. Mesenchymal stem cells

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Mesenchymal stem cells are also called as Adult stem cells, which has the potential to differentiate into various cell types viz., osteocytes, chondrocytes, myocytes and adipocytes. They are present all over the body viz., umbilical cord, adipose, bone marrow, placenta, peripheral blood, dental pulp and amniotic fluid. Intensive research and clinical trials has been conducted all over the world to evaluate their potential in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering capabilities.