What is a mature stem cell?
Stem cells are associated with most tissues of the body as part of a tissue/cell renewal mechanism - how the body regenerates its tissues. What is known to date is that mature stem cells are primarily multipotent, meaning they can yield all of the cell types associated with the tissues from which they originate. The mature stem cell is an undifferentiated (unspecialized) cell that is found in a differentiated (specialized) tissue, which can renew itself for a lifetime.
What is the role of mature stem cells?
Mature stem cells maintain and repair the body's tissues in which they are found.
Can mature stem cells become any type of body cell?
Traditionally, mature stem cells have been considered limited in their potential to become any type of body cell. In other words, they only produce cell varieties within their own lineage or type and are considered multipotent. For example, stem cells found in bone marrow can become bone as well as cartilage, fat cells, various kinds of muscle, and the cells that line blood vessels.
Can mature stem cells be pluripotent?
Unlike early stem cells, there is no evidence to date that any mature stem cells are capable of forming all cells of the body. However, recent studies have demonstrated that mature stem cells may be more flexible than previously thought. More studies are necessary to validate these results.
Where can mature stem cells be found?
Sources of mature stem cells have been found in areas of the body including bone marrow, blood stream, cornea and retina of the eye, the dental pulp of the tooth, liver, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas.
What is the most common type of mature stem cell used today?
The mature stem cells associated with those that form blood in bone marrow are the most common type of stem cell used to treat human diseases today.
How do mature stem cells treat diseases like cancer?
For more than 30 years, bone marrow stem cells have been used to treat cancer patients with conditions like leukemia and lymphoma. During chemotherapy, most of the leukemia cells are killed as are the bone marrow stem cells needed as a patient recovers. However, if stem cells are removed before chemotherapy, and then re-injected after treatment is completed, the stem cells in the bone marrow are able to produce large amounts of red and white blood cells, to keep the body healthy and to help fight infections.