Stem cells – everyone’s heard a lot about their greatness and magnificence lately – so we are putting them under our microscope. Stem cells are a very simple concept at the core, and we’ve known about their existence for ages – but it’s their recently discovered potential that’s really blown everyone away. In lay terms, they are cells in our body, which have no original purpose to serve – but have one, very special ability – they can divide into any other cell of our body. Its like an unmolded, or more correctly, unevolved cell – its remained in that infant stage where its future is yet undecided, and it can become anything it wants, or we want. In that way it is like a little child, and just like a child, it has huge potential. The exploitation of this potential is the essence of the stem cell revolution. However, the problematic fact was that stem cells are only found in the umbilical cord of a newly born baby, and if not stored away at that very moment – they are lost.The industry grew on the storage of stem cells of babies, until the time was ripe for their use.
Two very recent and amazing discoveries have really changed everything. The first was the discovery that one need not necessarily use one’s own stem cells for treatment – instead the stem cells of a compatible individual (compatibility is measured by some tests) – can be injected into you. This changed the economic side of the industry amazingly – anyone, not just people who have stem cells stored, but any person can use stem cells in treatment. And the second discovery – that has made news in the last year – is even more amazing – the umbilical cord is not the only source of stem cells. Research has discovered alternative sources for stem cells within our bodies, and even better – ways to convert normal cells to stem cells. These new discoveries allow us to access to our own stem cells in greater abundance. What are the uses – they are innumerable. One can use stem cells to do everything from repairing damaged tissue and treating disease to regenerating full organs and limbs – because they can replace any cells you have lost – and that one little thing will soon change medical science beyond imagination.
References: Wikipedia, Medical News Today, Financial Times