Stem cells have received an increased amount of attention in recent years. There’s optimism that they may help treat several different medical issues. You may have wondered if a stem cell treatment can help with a medical issue you’re dealing with. Before you decide on seeking stem cell treatment, it’s helpful to understand how stem cells work. Here’s some essential information you should know about stem cells.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the cells where all other cells that have specific functions are generated. In other words, they are the body’s raw materials. When put in the right conditions, they can divide to form other cells called daughter cells. The daughter cells will either become new stem cells or become cells with a specific function such as brain cells, bone cells, or blood cells. Stem cells are the only cell that can generate new cell types.

Where do stem cells originate?

The most talked-about source where stem cells originate in is embryos. Embryonic stem cells are cells that come from embryos that are around three to five days old. Embryos at this stage are referred to as blastocysts and have about 150 cells. The stem cells’ embryos have are pluripotent stem cells. This means they can divide into more stem cells or change into a type of cell in the body. It’s because of that versatility that embryonic cells are commonly used to repair diseased tissue or organs.

Another source where stem cells can originate is adult tissues. Adult stem cells are found in tissues such as fat or bone marrow. Initially, it was thought that adult stem cells had a more limited ability to change into a different type of cell in the body. New evidence now suggests that these types of stem cells can possibly create other types of cells. As an example, a bone marrow stem cell could potentially be able to create a heart muscle cell. Additionally, researchers have also discovered stem cells in amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, and also from altering adult cells to have properties of embryonic stem cells.

What’s stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy involves promoting the repair response of injured, diseased, or dysfunctional tissue using stem cells. The stem cells are grown in a lab, then manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as a blood cell or nerve cell. Once it has been specialized, then the cell can be implanted into a person. One example of how this would work would be with a person who has heart disease. Stem cells that are used to create heart muscle cells can be injected into the heart muscle, and once injected, can help repair defective heart muscle.

These are the basics of what stem cells are and how stem cell therapy works. Researchers continue to study different ways these cells can be used to help heal people. Be sure to learn as much as you can about stem cell therapy before seeking a provider.