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Controlling Stem Cells…through their environment

We want to talk here about the fascination that stem cells produce over scientists and lay people. Ever since we heard about this microscopic buddies for the first time, we started imagining endless possibilities for treatments and, why not: cures.

So scientists went right to work. One of the objectives was to find ways to control how stems cells develop into other cell types, in the hopes of creating new therapies. The work is on its infancy but,  as we all hear constantly, it is very promising.

Researchers have learned that pluripotent cells—stem cells that have the ability to differentiate into any kind of cell- when cultured in certain types of confined spaces started activating genes that determined the tissue those cells were going to become.  Most of the medical investigation on stem cells has focused on modifying the combination of growth solutions to stimulate differentiation. The cellular surroundings are an important element to controlling how stem cells transform into other cell types. The research continues. and the perspectives are exciting. We have already obtained dopamine producing neurons from pluripotent cells! We have already created a sugar based scaffold of blood vessels!!

Now what happens out of the lab?. Physicians and patients alike have embraced the use of fresh adult stem cells obtained from fat or bone marrow to treat some degenerative conditions. Clinical trials have demonstrated significant improvement, for example in knee osteoarthritis, sports injuries, frozen shoulder etc. What happens in this case? how do these cells work?. Well: adult stem cells not necessarily differentiate or “become” cartilage, or tendon, or muscle. By the release of information, proteins, anti-inflamatory elements; this cells will influence the environment and stimulate the growth and differentiation of the local cells, hence regenerating and healing damaged tissue. So with slight differences what is being achieved in the laboratory, happens in a very natural fashion inside our bodies through the harnessing of our own cells healing power!

Isn’t it all short of amazing?

 

Will see you in the next blog. Keep your cells healthy!

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