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Stem Cell Technology

  • Date Submitted: 10/12/2010 07:51 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 37.3 
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Stem cell technology

Introduction

                        Stem cells are cells found in all multi cellular organisms. They are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiate into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Research in the stem cell field grew out of findings by Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Tim[pic]l at the University of Toronto in the 1960s. The two broad types of mammalian stem cells are: embryonic stem cells that are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells that are found in adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all of the specialized embryonic tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells, but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues.
Stem cells can now be grown and transformed into specialized cells with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves through cell culture. Highly plastic adult stem cells from a variety of sources, including umbilical cord blood and bone marrow, are routinely used in medical therapies. Embryonic cell lines and autologous embryonic stem cells generated through therapeutic cloning have also been proposed as promising candidates for future therapies.

Properties

The classical definition of a stem cell requires that it possess two properties:
    • Self-renewal - the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining the undifferentiated state.
    • Potency - the capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. In the strictest sense, this requires stem cells to be either totipotent or pluripotent - to be able to give rise to any mature cell type, although multipotent or unipotent progenitor cells are sometimes referred to as stem cells.

Self-renewal

Two mechanisms...

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