About stem cells
Stem cell therapy holds a huge potential for advanced both veterinary and human medicine in the future
Stem cells are cells capable of developing into various bodily cells. They are found in a number of tissues, most likely as a reserve, which the body can use when needed as a substitute for dying, diseased or damaged cells. Where injury or illness occurs, stem cells create an environment which, with the body's own properties, promotes recovery. Stem cells can develop into various bodily cells, therefore the potential for their use is practically unlimited. In veterinary medicine stem cells are already available for various diseases of joints, sinew and ligaments. Animacel is one of the few companies in the world to offer stem cell treatment.
Difference between stem cells and other cells
There are 3 essential characteristics, that differentiate stem cells from other cells:
- Stem cells are unscpecialized
- They are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods
- Under certain circumstances they can give rise to specialized cells
Types of stem cells
Embryonic stem cells:
In the embryonic stage stem cells play a role of turning into all the tissues and organs. Emryonic stem cells originate from embryo, which develops from fertilized egg cell. In developing stage of embryo called blastocyst, the inner cells give rise to the entire body of the organism, including all the many specialized cell types and organs such as hearth, lung, skin and others. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, which means they are capable of develpoing into all the specialized cells in the body.
Adult stem cells:
In the postembryonic life, stem cells serve as a repair system to replace dead, diseased or damaged bodily cellc. Adult stem cells are found among differentiated cells in many tissues and organs. Their primary role is to maintain and repair the tissue when needed. Adult stem cells are usually capable of diferentiation into cells of the tissue where they are found. However, scientists have discovered that some of the adult stem cells have the ability to diferentiate into cells of tissue other than their own.
Potential uses of stem cells
There are many ways in which stem cells can be used in research and the clinic. One of the primary goals is to identify how undifferentiated stem cells become the differentiated cells that form the tissues and organs. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation. A more complete understanding of the genetic and molecular controls of these processes may yield information about how such diseases arise and suggest new strategies for therapy.
Stem cells could also be used to test new drugs. For example, new medications could be tested for safety on differentiated cells generated from pluripotent cell lines. Other kinds of cell lines are already used in this way. Cancer cell lines, for example, are used to screen potential anti-tumor drugs. The availability of pluripotent stem cells would allow drug testing in a wider range of cell types.
Perhaps the most important potential application of stem cells is the generation of cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies. Stem cells, directed to differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.