What are stem cells?

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
-Nation Institute of Health, Stem Cell Information
  • Stem cells have an almost unlimited ability to multiply through cell division
  • A new cell can be either a stem cell or another body cell type
  • Stem cells can change function or “differentiate” into many types of body tissues.
  • Stem cells create but also heal body tissues
  • Medical research is on-going with embryonic stem cells (cells of embryos) and adult stem cells (harvested any time after birth). Cord blood cells are considered “adult” stem cells.

The National Institute of Health provides a comprehensive review of stem cell biology and therapy at: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/Pages/Default.aspx