What Are Adult Stem Cells
Adult stem cells like all other types of stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in almost all the tissues and organs of the body. It main function is to repair and regenerate the damaged tissues or organs. The adult stem cells are also called as somatic stem cells which mean cells of the body and are not germ cells like the cells of the embryonic stem cells. The origin or the adult stem cell in the body is still under investigation. The adult stem cells which were once considered to be present in a few selected organs are now found to be present in many more organs. There widespread presence of adult stem cells in many organs has resulted in the speculation of its use in stem cell transplant. However, the use of adult hematopoietic stem cell found in bone marrow is being used in the treatment of many types of blood disorders from some 40 years now. A new study has found the presence of adult stem cells in brain and heart as well. This breakthrough has given a lot of hope in the therapies which are transplant based and may well be executed once the laboratory control on their growth is achieved.
Location and functions of adult stem cells:
The adult stem cells have two general characteristics that are: their capability of duplicating themselves for long period of time while retaining all their properties and the second their capability of differentiating into other cell of specific properties and specialized function. The stem cell during differentiation first proliferates into an intermediate cell called the progenitor cell or the precursor cell. These progenitor cell are partially differentiated cell which are paused and then they are committed to developing into differentiated cells during the development of the fetus or if in an organ into the cells of the organ.
The adult stem cells are found in brain, bone marrow, peripheral blood, skin, teeth, heart, liver guts and many other organs. These adult stem cells are found in the specific part of the organ or tissues which is called as stem cell niche. Stem cells remain in dormant stage in these organs until a need for the differentiation of the cell is triggered. However, these adult stem cells are found in very small quantity and once extracted from the body their efficiency decreases and even the cell dividing property is diminished making their culture in the laboratory a difficult task. Once the protocol for retaining the efficiency and the dividing capacity of these adult stem cells is finalized, it will result in a revolutionary change in the field of regenerative medicine. It will make the treatment of many incurable diseases possible using these stem cells.