Stem cells were able to be differentiated into heart cells, stem cells could be transformed into bone matrix, a specific gene from stem cells can be mutated to generate embryonic like stem cells, stem cells……
One or two decades ago, when stem cells research had just begun to develop; its different potentials from exploring the early human development to possible replacement of damaged or defective cells were reflecting to be some hypothetical bedtime stories.
However, aggressive research and clinical developments initiated by the worldwide scientists, supported their so far hypothetical existence to be realistic. Many unique properties of different types of stem cells have been pinpointed, such as totipotent nature of embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells with limited potency to be tissue specific cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, futuristic alternatives to the embryonic stem cells.
In this regard, the article is intended to summarize the top five findings, which have been proven to be game changers in approving their existence and future fates.
The markers of destiny
It was earlier thought that specific genes that have been identified as markers of different types of tissue related cells remain silent, until stem cells are in their undifferentiated state; however, researchers from the University of California and Los Angeles have explored the fact that different proteins mark these genes, early during the embryonic level; when cells can potentially be directed to perform wide range of future functions. In this regard, scientists are now putting in more efforts, to put insights, on the better understanding of the pluripotency and the presence of these marks, in order to make sure that stem cells remain fully functional, even after their infusion.
Like different houses have a different infrastructure, it has been recently discovered that the physical properties of stem cells can have a better predictability about their most suited fate. Evidence has suggested that bone cells can be better developed from stiff stem cells, whereas fat can be easily formed from squishy, soft cells.
Right concoction of recipes
We all might have heard the story of Cinderella and her fairy grandmother! Even she had to use a right spell to make a pumpkin into a carriage! Similarly, to direct these stem cells towards being the specific cell, it is necessary to have the right blend of growth factors, nutrient medium and environment. A team of researchers from the University of Canada, developed three different types of cardiac muscles, in vitro through a right concoction of growth factors, stimulants, nutrients and micro environment. The data may further encourage us to believe that it is quite possible to create fully functional organs, outside the human body, through right recipes of stem cells.
Scientists from the University of North Carolina have explored the fact that if the DNA is being damaged through environmental effects, like viral attack, radiations, etc; stem cells can possibly kill themselves to halt further progression of unlikely conditions. It has been investigated that in order to prevent this accidental cellular suicide, stem cells have their own ‘poison apple’ that is being stored in their nucleus to prevent further cellular communication. Scientists are now fetching the fact deeper to aid the development of cellular therapies, perhaps to replace lost cells.
The ability of stem cells to metamorphose into fully functional cell is being studied in depth to understand their internal mechanism and test potential treatments.