What Different Types of Stem Cells Can Do

The words “stem cells” mean different things to different people. For some, they hold the secrets to potential medical breakthroughs. For others, they are a complete mystery. At the Knee Institute & Regenerative Medicine, we think of them as one of the key ways to treat a variety of knee problems. Regardless of how you perceive stem cells, many people do not realize that there are different types of stem cells. These different types of stem cells are different in important ways.

There are three main types of stem cells: adult stem cells (ASCs), embryonic (or pluripotent) stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Adult stem cells

Also called “somatic stem cells,” adult stem cells replenish dead or damaged tissue throughout adult bodies. As part of our normal biological processes, cells may become damaged or even die. ASCs are vital to regenerate and replace these cells. For example, skin cells only live for about two or three weeks. ASCs play a large part in the creation of replacement cells. Stem cells also are found in bone marrow, and scientists have begun experimenting with treating certain types of illnesses with bone marrow transplants.

Embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are different from adult stem cells in a number of ways. First of all, ESCs are found in embryos that have been fertilized but not implanted. Women who have had embryos fertilized in vitro can choose to donate. Second, unlike ASCs, ESCs have the potential to become any type of tissue, whereas ASCs regenerate and repair tissue. Third, ESCs are only found during the first stage of development, and due to this, researchers are only beginning to understand how ESCs work. One day, scientists hope to use ESCs to create whatever type of tissue is needed.

Inducted pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)

The third and final type of stem cells are iPSCs. iPSCs are a recent development, only discovered in 2007 through a method of genetic reprogramming. iPSCs are like a middle ground between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. To create iPSCs, scientists introduce embryonic genes into somatic cells. This causes the somatic cells to revert back into a state that’s similar to a stem cell. iPSCs are still in their infamy, and researchers will need to work on them longer.

At the Knee Institute, we’re excited to work with different types of stem cells, particularly in our stem cell therapy treatments. This out-patient procedure injects human umbilical cord stem cells to address various problems and pains. Stem cell therapy is a great option for patients uncertain about surgery. For information on non-surgical knee treatment in Detroit, contact The Knee Institute at 248-509-8630.


Categories: Regenerative Medicine