A stem cell is a unique cell that has the ability to develop and transform into some specialized cells in the body. Due to the characteristics that they possess, they can be utilized for the replacement of tissues and cells that are damaged because of various reasons.
Functions of stem cells
It is a known fact that the human body is made up of various type of cells that perform different functions. For example, the work of the red blood cells (RBC) that is present in our body is to carry oxygen to various parts of the body. Likewise, the work of the stem cells is to provide fresh cells to the body and replace the damaged cells and tissues.
Properties of stem cells
There are two main properties that every stem cell has which make them the perfect fit for the functions that they are carrying out. They are
- Their ability to divide again and again to provide new cells.
- After dividing they have the property to transform into other types of cells.
Types of stem cells
There are three different types of stem cells they are embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells
The embryonic stem cells are the ones that provide new cells for an embryo which later grows and develops into a baby. These stem cells have the capability to change into any type of cell.
Adult stem cells
The adult stem cells are the stem cells that provide brand new cells to an organism in the growing process. They play a major role in repairing the dead cells and tissues. This adult stems cells are multipotent. It means they can only transform into some particular kinds of cells in the body. For example, the blood stem cells have the ability only to replace the cells that are present in the blood. This is the exact situation when it comes to skin or epithelial stem cells; they only replace the cells that are present in skin and hair.
Induced pluripotent stem cells
Induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells are the ones that are made in the labs by the scientists. The word “induced” refers to the production of cells in the laboratories by taking normal adult cells from hair or the skin. These stem cells are artificially programmed to perform different functions. As the name states, they are pluripotent and can transform into any type of cell.
Uses of stem cells
Majority of the population have this perception that stem cells are only used for medical purposes. Even though they play an important role in the medical industry, there are also other areas where stem cells are being used. For example, stem cells serum help in the renewal of skin cells and thus are extensively used in the fashion industry to provide anti-aging skin.
Stem cells play an important role in to understand the basic biology and working of the living things. It helps us to have a deep and a better understanding of how different cells function.