SCIENCE

Meet your stem cells

What are stem cells and what are some of the major breakthroughs in stem cell research? Find out here.

7 mins to read

The trillions of cells in your body all have very specific roles to fulfill. They may be utterly dedicated to your retina, a neuron in the brain, or even growing hairs on your big toe! But all of this starts with your body’s raw materials: your stem cells. These “master” cells have almost unlimited potential to become any cell that the body needs. Stem cell technologies are widely studied in research and are used in medicine where they act as regenerative cells, able to repair and regrow damaged tissues. You even harbor natural reserves of adult stem cells that help you repair and regenerate without having to lift a finger.

However, with age, your stem cells can start to deteriorate and decline. That’s where supporting your cell health becomes so important – if you can keep your body’s building blocks healthy, you’ll enable your mind and body to enjoy a full, healthy life.

What are stem cells?

Your body produces stem cells throughout your life. These are cells without a role yet; they are undivided, meaning they have the potential to become (almost) any cell type. Stem cells develop from the moment an egg is fertilized – this, in fact, being the ultimate stem cell – and generously, they still stick around after that, where they can divide to repair and regenerate your body’s tissues. In fact, the reason your wounds heal or your liver recovers from damage comes down to the work of stem cells.

Where are stem cells found?

Stem cells are pretty widespread, but they can lie dormant in tissues for years, tucked away from observation until the body calls them to action for fixing or growing new tissues. Stem cells have been found in the brain, bone marrow, blood, skin, liver, and skeletal muscles. They tend to exist in small numbers in most adult tissues. As we will see, stem cells are also found in embryos.

What types of stem cells are there?

There are two major types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells come from the blastocyst – a ball of about 150 cells that forms after an egg is fertilized. Embryonic stem cells can turn into any type of cell the body needs, meaning they are super versatile and helpful for regenerating new tissues or organs.

Adult stem cells encompass all the stem cells that exist after the embryonic stage. While these cells are still undifferentiated (not specific to a role), they’re slightly more specialized than embryonic stem cells. They cannot turn into absolutely anything, like embryonic stem cells can. They may be categorized into the following cell types:

  • Mesenchymal stem cells: present in many different tissues, these mainly give rise to bone, cartilage, and fat cells.
  • Neural stem cells: differentiate into neurons and their supporting cells.
  • Hematopoietic cells: form the blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • Skin stem cells: form cells which repair and maintain the skin barrier.

Hematopoietic stem cells are currently the most studied and most commonly used stem cells in medicine. For example, cancer patients may need hematopoietic stem cells supplied via bone marrow transplant to help their body make new blood cells after chemotherapy and radiation kill their hematopoietic stem cells. Over 50,000 of these bone marrow transplants are now performed each year, worldwide.

Researchers believed that stem cells would always create similar cells – for example, that stem cells in the skin would only develop into skin cells. It turns out that may not be true and stem cells may create different cell types, like bone marrow stem cells turning into neurons.

What are some of the major breakthroughs in stem cell research?

Stem cell research has come a long way in the past 60 years since their discovery. There is lots of fantastic evidence out there on the amazing feats medicine can accomplish with stem cells.

These are three examples of the latest game-changing breakthroughs in stem cell research:

  • In recent years, the combination of stem cell therapy and CRISPR technology appears set to change the world of modern medicine for good. CRISPR is a gene editing technology, discovered and developed from a naturally occurring immune defense system in bacteria. With CRISPR, scientists can edit parts of the DNA (abiding by ethics guidelines, of course). By editing certain stem cell genes using CRISPR, the possibilities are incredible – studies suggest this technology could provide a long-awaited cure for HIV via the introduction of HIV-resistant stem cells, alleviate the symptoms of sickle cell disease, and generally transform the field of medicine.
  • Scientists have successfully managed to genetically reprogram adult stem cells back into embryonic stem cells. That reprogramming allows adult stem cells to overcome their limitations and unlock all the potential that embryonic stem cells have, as so-called ‘induced pluripotent stem cells’. Further work is still needed, but it’s a super exciting prospect for increasing the versatility of adult stem cells for clinical applications in the future.
  • Another potential category of stem cells has been found – perinatal stem cells. Researchers found stem cells in umbilical cord blood, placenta, and in amniotic fluid, which is the liquid that surrounds a fetus while it develops in the uterus. These supposedly have combined qualities of both adult and embryonic stem cells.
scientists

How can MitoQ support stem cell health?

There is a direct link between mitochondrial function and stem cell function. Mitochondria help to determine the ‘fate’ of a given stem cell, in terms of what kind of cell it will eventually turn into. These findings have been a huge turning point in the field of stem cell research.

Problems with your mitochondria could affect your stem cells. Since mitochondria have a part to play in regulating stem cell activity, any age-related declines in stem cell mitochondria may also affect repair and regeneration by stem cells in many tissues.

You can help take charge of your health by boosting the mitochondria that are so crucial to your stem cells. MitoQ may assist in your stem cell health by fighting free radicals to keep your mitochondria healthy and working smoothly. Think of you and MitoQ as life partners; as you age and your stem cells face all the stressors that come with life, MitoQ is the best sidekick to support a healthy balance in your mitochondria.

Preliminary research has suggested there may be benefits of MitoQ for MSC differentiation in bone tissue and for HSC function. Oxidative stress can be harmful to the genetic information in stem cells, especially the mitochondrial DNA. By targeting oxidative stress, it’s possible MitoQ may be able to help , support healthy stem cells, aid in mitochondrial health, and help preserve their function in transplant.It all starts with you. Incorporate MitoQ into your lifestyle to support your cell health now and beyond. Try our breakthrough MitoQ formula so you can build a strong foundation.

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