Pluripotent Stem Cells- A Primer
The most amazing type of stem cell is the stem cells. They are also known as Pluripotent Stem Cells due to its ability to transform into any other cell types in the body (this property is also known as Pluripotency).
It is said to differentiate and mature to three primary groups of cells; this being the ectoderm, the endoderm, and the mesoderm.
The Ectoderm is the one responsible for the development of the nervous system as well as the skin (considered to be the biggest organ in our body). The Endoderm is responsible for the formation of our gastrointestinal tract as well as our endocrine, liver, pancreas, the different glands, and the respiratory system as well.
The Mesoderm is concerned about creating the different bones in our body as well as well as the cartilage that connects them. It is also responsible for the formation of muscles, tissues, and our circulatory system.
As you can see, pluripotent cells are able to perform different functions depending on the current need of our bodies. With that being said, what are the different types of pluripotent stem cells?
The Different Types of Pluripotent Stem Cells
1. Induced Pluripotent Cells
These cells are derived from the various cells in the body, particularly the skin cell since it is omnipresent. The cells are then “reprogrammed” to become pluripotent cells which have the ability to divide indefinitely as well as turn into specialized cells that perform a specific function in our bodies.
2. Embryonic Stem Cells
The “original” pluripotent cells, the embryonic stem cells are actually the best type of stem cells. However, because it is acquired from an early embryo, its use in both research and medical treatments is mired in controversy due to that fact.
There are two types of embryonic stem cells. The first one is the True embryonic stem cells which are cells that are extracted from blastocysts- 3-5 days’ old embryos.
The second type is the ntES or the Somatic Nuclear Transfer. This is acquired by transferring the nucleus of a somatic stem cell and then transferred to an egg cell from a willing donor. The resulting stem cell then turns into a cell with pluripotency. Basically, the process “reprograms” the egg cell to mimic the original embryonic stem cells.
Although it is good on paper, it still requires proper research to test its efficacy and safety.
3. Parthenogenetic Embryonic Stem Cells
This is where an egg cell is “programmed” to turn into an embryo without actually being one. In essence, the egg cell doesn’t require the use of a sperm cell to develop a natural embryo.
It still results in one, although it doesn’t have nearly the same characteristics of an actual embryo- which means that it doesn’t come with ethical implications.
That being said, this type of pluripotent stem cell still requires a lot of research, especially regarding its safety. At the time of writing this article, the Parthenogenetic stem cells are still being used in animal studies. The initial results prove to be promising and researchers are looking into human clinical trials soon.