What are stem cells and why are they needed?

On the pages of our portal we often writeon advances in stem cell use. In order not to miss such materials, we recommend that you subscribe to our news channel in Telegram. But today we decided to tell you not just about the next discovery, but about what exactly these same stem cells are. Is their use really a very promising area and how can stem cells help humanity in general?

The use of stem cells can open new horizons in regenerative medicine

What are stem cells?

Stem cells (or as they are also called,precursor cells) are cells from which all organs and tissues of our body are formed. The cells themselves are formed at the stage of embryonic development and are able to maintain their numbers for some time. With age, due to the fact that all the necessary organs are formed, the supply of stem cells decreases. But this leads to a deterioration in regenerative abilities and, as a consequence, aging of the body. Where do stem cells come from? In the human body, there are several sources of stem cells, namely bone marrow, adipose tissue, peripheral blood (the so-called hematopoietic stem cells, but they are also present in bone marrow), as well as the blood of the umbilical cord of infants and the umbilical cord itself.

See also: Found structures with greater regenerative potential than stem cells

On the last two points I would likestay in more detail. Because today cord blood sampling for preservation is very popular so that in the future these stem cells can be used to treat a specific person. That is, they will not need to be created artificially (which we will talk about today), but it will be possible to use "your own" genetic material. However, there is very little data on the successful application of this approach, and this industry is “young enough” to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness or inefficiency of this approach. It is also worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, placenta tissue does not belong to stem cell sources, since it is formed from the mother's body and contains adult mother cells.

Why do we need stem cells?

The question may arise: but what about people who "did not have time" to save their umbilical cord blood? In this case, cell reprogramming technology will come to the rescue. For her, as a rule, cells of the deep layers of the skin are taken and are reprogrammed in a special way. Moreover, this process is very similar to ordinary programming. To work with cells, a special language called Cello is developed. Only if ordinary programming languages ​​work with numerical data, Cello works with the nucleic acids that make up cellular DNA. Thus, any parameters can be set for nucleic acids and this will change the cell at the genetic level. Due to this, roughly speaking, skin cells undergo a kind of “reverse development”, without forming a new tissue, but rather “going to the roots”, becoming precursor cells.

Stem cells can develop into any tissue in our organisms.

Speaking of stem cell applicationsI want to note that today they are used for the treatment of a number of diseases of the blood and bone marrow. In particular, in the treatment of leukemia (blood cancer). Based on the fact that stem cells can form any tissue, scientists have found them to use, for example, in the treatment of serious burns to create skin grafts, to restore nerve trunks after injuries and “build up” new vessels.

But that is not all. At the moment, there are actively developing in the field of treatment of severe organic lesions of the nervous system. In particular, to create drugs for Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and so on. Moreover, there is already evidence that new organs can be grown with stem cells. For example, the heart, liver, kidneys, parts of the lung, bone, muscle, and tendon.

But do not perceive stem cells as“A cure for all diseases”, because the technology of their use is still poorly understood. In particular, some data suggest that improper stem cell therapy can provoke a “malfunction” in their development and cause the formation of tumors. It is also still not clear how well artificially grown organs will take root and whether they will be suitable for transplantation in general. Doctors still have to figure this out.