What are Stem Cells?

Meaning of Stem Cells

Stem cells are also known as source cells. They are a very specific type of cell that are capable of giving rise to other cells, playing a very important role in cell replacement and tissue regeneration.

More specifically, for a cell to be considered a stem cell, it must have two characteristics: continuous division and the ability to differentiate.

The capacity for continuous division, or self-replication, is the ability of these cells to multiply, generating cells like you.

The other characteristic, differentiation potential, simply means the potential that these cells have, under specific conditions, to be able to originate or transform into other types of cells, with their specific forms and functions.

Regarding the types of stem cells, it is possible to divide them into two groups, embryonic stem cells and non-embryonic stem cells. Both groups have their importance and peculiarities, and share the same basic characteristics: potential for multiplication and differentiation.

non-embryonic stem cells

Non-embryonic stem cells, also known as adult stem cells, are present in small numbers in the body, scattered throughout different tissues.

This group has a significantly reduced differentiation potential in relation to the other, due to this greater restriction they are categorized as multipotent cells.

This means that, although there is a certain restriction on the type of cell that will originate, there is the ability of these adult source cells to multiply, giving rise to another group of cells. Classic examples of this type of cells are some epithelial cells, bone marrow cells, among others.

Therefore, this type of stem cells plays an important role in tissue regeneration.

Embryonic stem cell

Embryonic stem cells are treated cells derived from the early stages of fetal development. More specifically, after fertilization, cell division events occur to increase the number of cells.

This group of stem cells are the ones that are present inside the blastocyst.

They have a high capacity for differentiation and can give rise to almost all cell types in the body. However, this capacity is not complete.

This is because there are specific structures that they cannot form, such as embryonic junctions. For this reason they are called pluripotent cells.

Another form in which stem cells can present themselves are totipotent cells. These, yes, can generate any type of tissue that makes up the body, including the fetal portion of the placenta. In this case, the cells that represent this group are the blastomeres, that is, the initial cells of the cleavage of the zygote in stages prior to the blastocyst.

Therefore, embryonic stem cells are of great importance in the development and growth of the organism.

It is precisely the fact that these embryonic stem cells have the potential to generate all types of cells and their respective tissues from a formed organism that caused modern medicine to arouse interest in the area.

This is because the advancement of research shows that stem cells can be a way out for degenerative diseases and even for the loss of entire organs, or their functions, as a result of accidents or deleterious diseases.

Finally, stem cells are all cells capable of multiplying and differentiating, distinguishing two types: adult and embryonic.

Thus, this is an area with a reasonable amount of accumulated knowledge and it is still expanding, precisely because it is an excellent alternative for curing or improving the quality of life of individuals with various diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease , some types. of diabetes, removal of organs for cancer, among many others.

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