Understanding the Significance of Stem Cells: DSS Ties Up with The Arjan Vir Foundation

BY DSS Imagetech 20th July 2019

DSS Imagetech tied up with The Arjan Vir Foundation to raise awareness about Stem Cell Donation and to invite people to volunteer to register as Stem Cell donors to help save more lives. The Foundation which has set up an international voluntary marrow donor registry is designed to address all blood disorders, offering assistance at each stage; treatment, recovery, aftercare, rehabilitation as well as resettlement of patients. 

Stem cells are very unique cells which are found in the body. Stem cells are the foundation for every organ and tissue in our body. Our body is made up of many different types of cells, most cells are specialized to perform particular functions, such as red blood cells that carry oxygen around our bodies in the blood, but they are unable to divide. Stem cells provide new cells for the body as it grows, and replace specialized cells that are damaged or lost. They have two unique properties that enable them to do this: 1) they can divide over and over again to produce new cells. 2) as they divide, they can change into other types of cells that make up the body. All stem cells can self-renew (make copies of themselves) and differentiate (develop into more specialized cells).

Types of stem cell:

There are three main types of stem cell:

  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Adult stem cells
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells

Embryonic Stem Cells:

These cells are derived from the inner cell mass (ICMs) of the blastocysts.  These cells are pluripotent, which means they can be differentiated into any cell types except placenta. 

Adult Stem Cells:

These cells are derived from the adult tissues, they can supply new cells as an organism grows and to replace cells that get damaged. These cells are multipotent, which means they can only change into some cells in the body. For example, blood (or ‘hematopoietic’) stem cells can only replace the various types of cells in the blood.

Induced pluripotent stem cells:

These cells are not found in the body they can be generated through genetic engineering in the Lab from any somatic cells into embryonic stem cells. Just like embryonic stem cells, they are pluripotent so they can develop into any cell type.

Why are stem cells useful:

Stem cells have several uses including:

  • Research – to help us understand the basic biology of how living things work and what happens in different types of cells during disease.
  • Therapy – Adult stem cells are currently used to treat some conditions, for example:-
  1. Blood stem cells are used to provide a source of healthy blood cells for people with some blood conditions, such as thalassemia, and cancer patients who have lost their blood stem cells during treatment.
  2. Skin stem cells can be used to generate new skin for people with severe burns.
  3. Stem cells could be used to generate new organs for use in transplants- Currently, damaged organs can be replaced by obtaining healthy organs from a donor, however, donated organs may be ‘rejected’ by the body as the immune system sees it as something foreign. Induced pluripotent stem cells generated from the patient could be used to grow new organs that would have a lower risk of being rejected.

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