We know that the cell is the most fundamental unit of life. It constitutes every part of a living organism, from limbs and appendages to organs and organ systems. In the human body, there is a multitude of specialized cells dedicated to performing various functions and roles. Common types of cells include hepatocytes, muscle cells, red blood cells, neurons etc.
Stem cells differ from these other cells as they are unspecialized and they have the potential to transform into any type of specialized cells, complete with its respective cell organelles and nucleus structure. They are primarily classified into three types, namely:
- Tissue Stem Cells
- Pluripotent Stem Cells
- Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)
Tissue Stem Cells or adult stem cells originate from various parts of the adult body. These can become any of the respective specialized tissue, for instance, a liver stem cell can generate liver tissue and a brain stem cell can generate brain tissue. However, the brain stem cells cannot regenerate damaged liver tissues and liver stem cells cannot regenerate damaged brain tissues.
Pluripotent Stem Cells are also called Embryonic stem cells as they are derived from embryos. These cells are essentially a “blank slate” as they can effectively transform into any type of specialized cell in the body.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) are another type of stem cells that are derived from tissue stem cells using technology. These stem cells possess shared characteristics of tissue and pose stem cells and pluripotent stem cells. The creation of iPSCs are complicated significant hurdles in their implementation. Furthermore, iPSCs are not very practical and economically feasible because of various constraints with regard to time, costs and implementation. Moreover, since iPSCs are a moderately new discovery (2006), there is a lot to be understood before these stem cells can have feasible applications in various fields.
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