Our bodies require blood in order to function properly. That is supplied by the bone marrow, pumped by the heart, and then the oxygen-rich blood will then go to the different areas in the body.
Our blood, technically, is comprised of red blood cells. They are constantly on the move to help supply oxygen and other nutrients to the different organs in your body. Not only that but they also remove any waste products as well. You could say that they do valuable work.
Because red blood cells would have to squeeze through tiny vessels in order to go to different areas, that can be quite taxing on their make-up, which is why they only have a relatively low lifespan of 4 months or less.
So, how do we replenish our blood reserves? Well, we turn our attention to stem cells. What are they and what can they do?
Stem cells are undifferentiated yet specialized cells that have two amazing properties. First, then can divide indefinitely and create daughter cells- which are cells that are exact copies of their parent cells.
Second, they differentiate into any cell in the body. That is why scientists believed that stem cells can be utilized to create tissue and, as medical technology advances, we may be able to create full-sized organs just from these amazing cells.
There are two main types of stem cells- one is the human embryonic stem cells which are derived from human embryos and the other one is known as the adult stem cells or Mesenchymal stem cells in some literature.
The hESCs have the ability to turn into whatever cell in the body, which is why they are also called as Pluripotent. The word, when loosely translated, means that it has many possibilities. Unsurprisingly, this is the type of stem cell that scientists want to utilize the most, but due to the nature of where it came from, that proved to be a major stumbling block in the name of science.
Human embryonic stem cells come from blastocysts of embryos that are about 3-5 days old. At this point, some of the cells of the embryo turn into bone or muscle cells, but there is a huge part where stem cells can be harvested.
During birth, most of the stem cells would have turned into the other cells in the body, which is why extracting stem cells at this point will no longer yield the results that you want.
The adult stem cells, on the other hand, do not have the ability to turn into whatever cell in the body, but they only differentiate into the cell where it came from. One of the most popular sites in humans where stem cells are harvested is from the bone marrow.
Bone marrow stem cells will turn into either red or white blood cells, which is why when you hear about bone marrow transplants, it is basically just resupplying the body with some much-needed RBCs and WBCs.