Individuals dealing with various conditions and diseases and ongoing research to find treatments, where do human regenerative cells come from?
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Regenerative cells are stem cells that are specialized to potentially develop into many different types of cells. They are unlike any other cell because:
- Being unspecialized they have no specific function in the body.
- They can become specialized cells like – brain, muscle, and blood cells.
- They can divide and renew continually for a long period.
- Blood stem cells are currently the only type that is regularly used in treatment.
- For leukemia or lymphoma, only adult cells are used in a procedure known as a bone marrow transplant. (Cleveland Clinic. 2023)
- For regenerative cell research, the cells can come from different sources, including adult donors, genetically altered human cells, or embryos.
Bone Marrow Transplants
- Bone marrow cells produce all of the body’s blood cells, including red and white blood, and platelets.
- Hematopoietic stem cells are those found in bone marrow that is the parent for the different types of cells.
- Hematopoietic cells are transplanted in individuals with cancer to replenish bone marrow.
- The procedure is often used during high-dose chemotherapy that destroys the existing cells in the bone marrow.
- Donated stem cells are injected into a vein and settle in the bone marrow where they begin to produce new healthy blood cells. (Cleveland Clinic. 2023)
Peripheral Blood Transplants
- For some time the only source to extract hematopoietic cells was from bone marrow.
- Researchers found that many of these cells were freely circulating in the blood.
- Scientists learned how to extract the cells from the blood and transplant them directly.
- This type of transplant is a peripheral blood stem cell transplant/PBSCT and has become the more common procedure, however, both methods are still used. (Cleveland Clinic. 2023)
- PBSCT is less invasive and does not require the removal of marrow from the hip bone.
- Adult stem cells are called somatic and are acquired from a donor.
- Hematopoietic cells are the most widely known.
- Through ongoing research, scientists have found somatic cells in more tissues including the: (National Institutes of Health. 2016)
- Gut (Stacy R. Finkbeiner, Jason R. Spence. 2013)
- Skeletal muscle
- Ovarian cells
Embryonic stem cells were first grown in a laboratory in 1998 for reproductive research, which created controversy because they were extracted from human embryos that were destroyed or harvested for science. Today their primary use is for research into treatments and potential cures for:
- Blindness (Shomoukh Al-Shamekh, Jeffrey L Goldberg. 2014)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Juvenile diabetes
- Genetic immune system disorders
Embryonic cells are pluripotent, which means they can grow into the three types of germ cell layers – ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm – that make up the human body and can develop into each of the more than 200 types of cells. (National Institutes of Health. 2016)
Induced Pluripotent Cells
- Induced pluripotent stem cells/iPSCs are somatic cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to behave like embryonic cells.
- iPSCs are usually skin or blood cells that undergo genetic programming. (Pavel Simara, Jason A Motl, Dan S Kaufman. 2013)
- iPSCs were first developed in 2006.
- A major advantage of iPSCs over somatic and embryonic cells is that iPSCs can be generated to match the patient.
- This means that a laboratory can tailor-make cells from an individual’s own cells or tissues.
Spine Injuries In Athletes
Cleveland Clinic. Stem Cell Transplant (Bone Marrow Transplant).
National Institutes of Health. Stem Cell Basics.
Simara, P., Motl, J. A., & Kaufman, D. S. (2013). Pluripotent stem cells and gene therapy. Translational research : the journal of laboratory and clinical medicine, 161(4), 284–292. doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2013.01.001
Finkbeiner, S. R., & Spence, J. R. (2013). A gutsy task: generating intestinal tissue from human pluripotent stem cells. Digestive diseases and sciences, 58(5), 1176–1184. doi.org/10.1007/s10620-013-2620-2
Al-Shamekh, S., & Goldberg, J. L. (2014). Retinal repair with induced pluripotent stem cells. Translational research : the journal of laboratory and clinical medicine, 163(4), 377–386. doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2013.11.002
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