What is a Stem Cell?

A stem cell is a special cell that can either divide to generate more stem cells or can mature into a working cell of the body, like a heart cell. There are various levels of stem cell potency.

Dr. Deisher explains stem cells

Pluripotent stem cells are primitive cells that can become all the cells of the body and generate an entire baby. There are several sources of pluripotent stem cells currently available: embryonic stem cells, reprogrammed adult stem cells, and testicular or spermatogonial stem cells. While all of these cells seem attractive because they can generate all the cells of the body, they also share one very unattractive characteristic– they form tumors when they are injected into the body.

Multipotent stem cells are adult stem cells that can repair damaged organs in our bodies. These cells are found in every organ of our bodies and work daily to keep us healthy. In the case of disease, our daily supply of stem cells may not be enough, and we can then take stem cells from other parts of our body or from a donor to get additional healing. Adult stem cells do not form tumors when they are injected into the body.

This is a transmission electron micrograph picture of a pluripotent adult stem cell isolated from the heart.

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