What Are Stem Cells And Why Are They Important?

The purpose of this website is to provide information about the use of stem cells for arthritis treatment.  How to heal cartilage…  because the ultimate dream is to provide an alternative to knee replacement surgery.

Before doing that though, I think it’s important to understand what stem cells are. Stem cells are cells without an identity. They’re ” blank slates” with no “writing” that identifies what type of cell they are supposed to be. At the time of conception, eggs are fertilized by sperm cells to form an embryo and  a process called cellular division starts.stem-cell-6

The cells of the new embryo have incorporated DNA material from both the mother as well as the father. During the early embryonic phase, cells are dividing rapidly but they have not yet become defined organ cells. They are simply cells that will soon undergo programming that will give them a specific identity.

Embryonic cells at this stage are referred to as pluripotential stem cells, meaning they can be made to become any type of organ cell. As the embryo matures, its cells undergo a gradual transformation and begin to take on more well defined characteristics. At this point, these embryonic stem cells are multipotential. This means they can be made to become most types of organ systems, but it is a bit more difficult to cause that transition than if they were pluripotential cells.

Once the embryo has fully developed, stem cells have, for the most part, fully differentiated. In the late fetal stage and in human adults, stem cells are less common; however, they may still be found in bone marrow, brain, spinal cord, blood vessels, parts of the eye, liver, pancreas and fat.

Stem cells in the adult function primarily to repair damage. The cells that have the most usefulness in clinical medicine are the mesenchymal stem cells that reside in the bone marrow. Mesenchymal stem cells in adults are multipotential.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can travel to areas of injury via the blood stream. While this is satisfactory for many types of injuries, there is a problem when injury occurs in areas where blood flow is poor. Examples include many tendon structures (For example: Achilles, rotator cuff, lateral and medial epicondyle, patellar tendon), as well as cartilage within joints.

Areas where stem cell access is poor do not heal well.

In these cases, mesenchymal stem cells are an important consideration.

Great video on stem cells:

http://youtu.be/a3iOGLx2elI

For more information go to Arthritis Treatment Center

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