Stem cells

Stem cells are cells with the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as a repair system for the body. There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Stem cells are different from other cells in the body in three ways:

  • They can divide and renew themselves over a long time
  • They are unspecialized, so they cannot do specific functions in the body
  • They have the potential to become specialized cells, such as muscle cells, blood cells, and brain cells

Doctors and scientists are excited about stem cells because they could help in many different areas of health and medical research. Studying stem cells may help explain how serious conditions such as birth defects and cancer come about. Stem cells may one day be used to make cells and tissues for therapy of many diseases. Examples include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

NIH: National Institutes of Health

Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)1

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Stem Cells: Relatively undifferentiated cells that retain the ability to divide and proliferate throughout postnatal life to provide progenitor cells that can differentiate into specialized cells.2

Types

Types may include:3

Types of Stem Cell:

  • Adult Stem Cell
  • Circulating Stem Cell
  • Epithelial Stem Cell
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell
  • Liver Stem Cell
  • Multipotent Stem Cell
  • Neural Stem Cell
  • Pluripotent Stem Cell
  • Reserve Stem Cell
  • Totipotent Stem Cell
  • Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell

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Disease and Condition Articles

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Related Disease and Condition Topics

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References

  1. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ stemcells.html
  2. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  3. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  4. Source: CDC NCBDDD: cdc.gov/ ncbddd/ birthdefects/ index.html

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.