Stem Cells and Life

Stem cells (SC) are unspecialized cells that have the ability to regenerate themselves and old/dying cells through their ability to continuously divide and differentiate. Stem cells (SC), previously referred to as progenitor cells, are a unique type of unspecialized cells that tremendously differ than other type of cells. This is due to their ability to continuously self renew and differentiate during the lifespan of humans, its ability to sense and migrate to damaged tissues, and their potentialities to differentiate into several specialized cells. They can be induced to become tissue/organ specific cells based on their environment These specialized cells include cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, neuronal cells, insulin producing ß cells, retinocytes and many other cells. The importance of SC lies in their high curative potential in regenerative medicine and their ability to replenish other cells with no limit.

The process of division, differentiation and regeneration starts soon after the sperm fertilizes an egg and a zygote is formed. The processes of cell death and deterioration, and cell division and regeneration remain in balance throughout the human’s life span. Starting from the formation of an embryo all the way through the fetal stages, the process of stem cell division, differentiation and regeneration is favored to aid in the development process. After birth, this process gradually slows down, yet cell division and regeneration remain more prevalent until one reaches puberty. Thereafter, the process of cell death and deterioration gradually increases and the ability of stem cells to regenerate and differentiate decreases until the person ages and eventually dies.