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Stem Cells

Stem Cells

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Published by Rahul Kumar
Notes On Stem Cells
Notes On Stem Cells

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Published by: Rahul Kumar on Sep 26, 2013
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Stem cells
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide (throughmitosis) and
differentiate
into diverse specialized cell types and can
self-renew
to producemore stem cells.
In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells:
embryonic stem cells
, which areisolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and
adult stem cells
, which are found invarious tissues.
In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a
repair system
for the body,replenishing adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all thespecialized cells (these are called pluripotent cells), but also maintain the normal turnover ofregenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues.
Autologous stem cells can be sourced in adult human from three sources: Bone marrow(through harvesting), adipose tissues and blood.
Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood just after birth.
Properties of Stem cells:
Self-renewal:
The ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintainingthe undifferentiated state.
Potency:
The capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. In the strictest sense, thisrequires stem cells to be either totipotent or pluripotent—to be able to give rise to anymature cell type, although multipotent or unipotent progenitor cells are sometimes referredto as stem cells.
Potency of Stem Cells:
Totipotent
(a.k.a. omnipotent) stem cells can differentiate into embryonic andextraembryonic cell types. Such cells can construct a complete, viable organism. These cellsare produced from the fusion of an egg and sperm cell. Cells produced by the first fewdivisions of the fertilized egg are also totipotent.
Pluripotent
stem cells are the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate intonearly all cells, i.e. cells derived from any of the three germ layers.
Multipotent
stem cells can differentiate into a number of cells, but only those of a closelyrelated family of cells. Eg Blood Cells
Oligopotent
stem cells can differentiate into only a few cells, such as lymphoid or myeloidstem cells.
Unipotent
cells can produce only one cell type, their own, but have the property of self-renewal, which distinguishes them from non-stem cells (e.g., muscle stem cells).
Induced pluripotent stem cell:
A pluripotent cell is a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the threegerm layers:
endoderm
(interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs),
mesoderm
(muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or
ectoderm
(epidermal tissues and nervoussystem).
Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to any fetal or adult cell type.
However, alone they
cannot
develop into a fetal or adult organism because they lack thepotential to contribute to
extraembryonic tissue
, such as the placenta.They are a type ofpluripotent stem cell artificially derived from a non-pluripotent cell - typically an adult
somatic cell
- by inducing a
"forced"
expression of specific genes.
2012 Noble Prize in Medicine to
Shinya Yamanaka , John Gurdon
 
iPSCs were first produced in 2006 from mouse cells and in 2007 from human cells in aseries of experiments by Shinya Yamanaka's team at Kyoto University, Japan.
Because iPSCs are developed from a patient's own somatic cells, it was believed thattreatment of iPSCs would avoid any immunogenic responses
Pharmaceutical companies have taken it to the next level by using stem cells, eitherembryonic or iPS cells, for screening drug candidates — for toxicity and potential newtreatments.
The efficiency of turning adult cells into iPS cells is at present very low at about 1 per cent.
Application of Stem cell research:
A number of adult stem cell therapies already exist, particularly bone marrow transplantsthat are used to treat leukemia.
One concern of treatment is the risk that transplanted stem cells could form tumors andbecome cancerous if cell division continues uncontrollably.
Debate:
Ethical debate primarily concerning the creation, treatment, and destruction of humanembryos incident to research involving embryonic stem cells.
The creation of a human embryonic stem cell line requires the destruction of a humanembryo.
For:
Embryos are not equivalent to human life while they are still incapable of surviving outsidethe womb (i.e. they only have the potential for life).
More than a third of zygotes do not implant after conception. Thus, far more embryos arelost due to chance than are proposed to be used for embryonic stem cell research ortreatments.
Blastocysts are a cluster of human cells that have not differentiated into distinct organ tissue;making cells of the inner cell mass no more "human" than a skin cell.
Some parties contend that embryos are not humans, believing that the life of
 Homo sapiens
 only begins when the heartbeat develops, which is during the 5th week of pregnancy, orwhen the brain begins developing activity, which has been detected at 54 days afterconception.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) generates large numbers of unused embryos (e.g. 70,000 inAustralia alone). Many of these thousands of IVF embryos are slated for destruction. Usingthem for scientific research uses a resource that would otherwise be wasted.
While the destruction of human embryos is required to establish a stem cell line, no newembryos have to be destroyed to work with existing stem cell lines. It would be wasteful notto continue to make use of these cell lines as a resource.
Abortions are legal in many countries and jurisdictions. The argument then follows that ifthese embryos are being destroyed anyway, why not use them for stem cell research ortreatments?
Adult stem cell versus embryonic stem cell:
Embryonic stem cells make up a significant proportion of a developing embryo, while adult

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