Stem cells are the body’s building blocks. Of the more than 200 types of cells in the body, only stem cells have the ability to regenerate tissue and organs. Each time they divide, a stem cell can make a copy of itself (for future needs) and make a more specialized kind of cell that the body may need to repair or replace cells lost due to injury, disease or regular wear and tear. It is this ability to create more specialized cells and to also create exact duplicates of itself that makes a stem cell both unique and very powerful.
There are different kinds of stem cells and some are more powerful than others. Stem cells that live in different tissue and organs can only make the kinds of cells in that tissue and are known as adult stem cells or multipotent stem cells. For example, a blood stem cell lives in the bone marrow and can only make cells of the blood system. Likewise, skin stem cells can only make the different cell types in the skin. Pluripotent stem cells are more powerful and have the ability to make any kind of tissue in the body. There are two kinds of pluripotent stem cell, embryonic stem cells that are found in 4-5 day old blastocysts (age after conception) and induced pluripotent stem cells, which are created using an adult cell (such as a skin cell) and adding genetic material to turn it back in time to a stem-cell state.
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