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What Property Is Unique to Stem Cells?

The peculiarity of stem cells lies in their basic properties:

  • self-healing – the ability to undergo a huge number of cell division cycles and remain undifferentiated
  • pluripotency – the ability to differentiate into any cell type 

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These properties make stem cells critical for human health. Each cell that composes skin, muscle, and bone tissue contains complete information about the entire human body. Each cell has a certain “specialization” – only the segment of DNA containing information about this specialization is activated during the natural regeneration process. For example, when skin cells divide, they can produce only similar skin cells. Stem cells, however, are universal, with all genetic information activated in them. Therefore, a stem cell can develop into any other cell. After birth, most of the universal cells in the human body lose their properties. The number of stem cells in the human body is lower as compared to an embryo. A small amount of stem cells is found in all organs; bone marrow contains the majority. 

When something in an organism goes wrong, stem cells can restore the damage by activating their healing properties and transforming into the necessary type of cells. During an injury or disease, when cells are damaged or destroyed, stem cells are activated to repair damaged tissues. Stem cells also replace other cells when they naturally die. Thus, our stem cells keep us healthy and prevent premature aging. However, some cells in the body cannot be restored naturally after serious damage or disease. Stem cells can be used to produce healthy and well-functioning specialized cells that replace damaged and non-functioning cells. 

In some way, stem cell therapy is similar to transplantation; cells are transplanted instead of organs. The unique properties of stem cells give reasonable hope for the treatment of things such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, Type I diabetes, spinal cord injury, strokes, burns, heart disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatic arthritis, and more. Scientists believe that stem cells will help them understand the mechanisms of both embryonic developments (in which genes are activated in one way or another) and anomalies in cell division.

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