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What Are Stem Cells?

They’re all about us.

As you continue scrolling imagine this circle is a stem cell.

Why are stem cells important?

Stem cells are the body’s “master cells.” They are the building blocks of all organs, tissues, blood and the immune system serve as an internal repair system, dividing lost or damaged cells for the life of a person.

Everything starts with stem cells.

Stem cells generate all the cells and structures of the human body from conception to end of life. There are three broad categories of stem cells and multiple tissue-specific stem cells types.

1.

Everything starts with stem cells.

Stem cells generate all the cells and structures of the human body from conception to end of life. There are three broad categories of stem cells and multiple tissue-specific stem cells types.

NSCF supports only adult and iPS cell research and clinical trials.
2.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS Cells)

An iPS cell is an adult stem cell, most often a skin cell, that has been reprogrammed to revert back to a pluripotent state. iPS cells are already in use as tools for drug development and disease modeling. They are also in widespread research and clinical trial use to induce the production of missing cells that will halt or reverse catastrophic and currently incurable degenerative diseases. Because they are collected directly from the affected patient, there is no risk of transplant rejection, eliminating the serious complications of rejection common in transplants.

3.

Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells are collected from in vitro fertilization clinics when donated to research with the consent of donor(s). In- vitro fertilization involves the joining of egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and freezing the resulting earliest stage embryo for future implantation. Embryos not needed for implantation may be donated to science, stored indefinitely or discarded. These cells are considered “pluripotent,,” or capable of developing into all the cells and tissues of the human body.

Because embryonic stem cells are immature cells that muultiply very rapidly, they often form tumors - a significant hurdle at present for human therapeutic use. Embryonic cells are most often used in research to model “diseases in a dish” to test or identify new drugs for the treatment of disease. The 2006 discovery that adult skin cells could be reprogrammed to behave like pluripotent stem cells largely leapfrogged the use of embryonic cells for clinical development.

Current
treatments

Stem cells from bone marrow have been used since the 1950s to treat patients with certain types of blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma. Donating stem cells can now be as easy as donating blood. Umbilical cord blood collected at birth also provides an abundant source of bone marrow stem cells and is often used to treat cancer and rare inherited disorders in children.