Captain’s Log, Stardate 12.07.2005
When people say “stem cells,” they usually mean embryonic stem cells, which are made when an embryo is killed to harvest its stem cells.
But did you know that there’s great research being done with adult stem cells? These are stem cells that are more “mature” than embryonic stem cells, but still able to form different types of cells in the body. They’re precursors for lots of tissues like liver, brain, blood, bone, kidney, heart.
Adult stem cells are from the person’s own body or another donor, often from umbilical cord blood. If they’re from the patient’s own body (usually blood), there’s no chance of rejection by the immune system.
Stem cells from another donor or baby’s umbilical cord blood can be rejected since they’re foreign cells. Umbilical cord blood more closely resembles embryonic stem cells (although they’re not exactly the same). The difference is that they can be harvested without killing an embryo.
Here are some great articles about the incredible potential of adult stem cells:
Adult stem cells aid recovery in animal model of cerebral palsy. (This is exciting. The adult stem cells actually encouraged the damaged cells to repair themselves.)
Pluristem company devises a method to separate umbilical cord stem cells (This is also exciting. This will open doors for research and therapy using umbilical cord stem cells as an alternative to embryonic stem cells.)