The use of stem cells in medicine has generated its fair share of incredible possibilities – and controversy. You can use stem cells for all kinds of incredible medical procedures, from research to our Stem Cell Facelift. There are even hopes that we may one day be able to grow viable human organs for transplant by using stem cells, saving lives and money in the process. There is, however, a fairly broad misunderstanding of how stem cells work, and what exactly they are, and that’s what we’re going to dive into here.
Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryos have to develop into fetuses, and that transformation happens with the help of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent – that means they can develop into more stem cells, or turn into any type of cell you might find in the human body. Pluripotent stem cells are arguably the most useful for medicine for this reason – they’re the most versatile.
The flip side of this is that embryonic stem cells are, unsurprisingly, the most controversial. They bring up a host of ethical questions: When does life begin? What does a world where embryos are seen mostly as a means of harvesting stem cells really look like? There has been a lot of backlash about using embryonic stem cells for these and other reasons – questions that grind down to moral axioms in many cases.
Adult Stem Cells
These questions make it difficult to do research using embryonic stem cells so scientists have looked elsewhere – chiefly, in the adult human body. As it turns out, adults have stem cells too. They are not, however, pluripotent, which means they are not as versatile. For quite some time, we thought that adult stem cells could only be used to generate similar types of cells – stem cells found in fat, for example, could only be used to generate fat. But we’ve learned that this is not entirely true – it’s possible that stem cells from bone marrow can generate heart muscle cells – but these applications are still being tested. Dr. Newman has found for the past 20 years that using adult stem cells, drawn from the patients own fat- are the most potent and are what make his Stem Cell Lift facelift the success that it is!
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
This is where science starts going really wild. We have these adult stem cells and we want them to be pluripotent, but they’re not – no worries! All we have to do is genetically reprogram these stem cells so that they act like embryonic cells. We’ve done this successfully, but we’re still treading cautiously – we don’t quite know what might happen when genetically modified stem cells are introduced into a person’s body.
Perinatal Stem Cells
Another type of stem cells are found in umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid. We’re not yet sure how useful these cells are for medical purposes but they are definitely a good diagnostic tool to test for abnormalities during pregnancy. We hope to find other uses for these cells, but doing so may raise ethical questions in much the same vein as the embryonic stem cells.