Reprogrammed of Stem Cells
For a cell to be considered a stem cell, it must possess two unique qualities: the ability to cell divide exponentially and the ability to transform into specific cells in the body.
The only type of stem cell that can do that are the ones that can be extracted from an embryo (specifically from a Blastocyst). Because it has this unique property, this type of cell is also known as the Pluripotent Stem Cell.
The beauty of stem cells is that it can be used for research and for treating various medical conditions. In fact, it has already been used in treating Type-1 diabetes and it helps restore the Pancreas’ function to create the hormone Insulin- the one responsible for the regulation of our blood sugar levels.
Back in the day, embryonic stem cells have been used extensively because it is the only stem cell, at least at that time, that was able to differentiate and morph into other specialized cells in the body. Adult stem cells, even though it has the ability to transform into other cells, can only morph into things from where it originally came from.
The Source of Pluripotent Stem Cells
Scientists get pluripotent stem cells from embryos that were cultivated in “In Vitro Fertilization” clinics. Even though the sperm and the egg cells that were freely donated by would-be donors, it is still controversial to use it since the resulting embryos are not fit for transplantation into surrogate mothers anymore. So technically, they’re dead after extraction of the said cells.
However, with the advancements in medical technology, scientists have come up with a way to “create” their own set of pluripotent cells without having to use an embryo for it.
The idea was to get some adult stem cells and “reprogram” them to become pluripotent stem cells with the use of four different proteins that are considered to be essential in the formation and early development of an embryo.
The result was the creation of what is now known as the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. These cells also have the same abilities that are present in embryonic stem cells. They have the ability to self-renew and divide into multiple stem cells or they can turn into specialized cells and differentiate into the different cell types in the body.
Because of its amazing characteristics, the iPS has been used extensively both in research and treatments. In fact, there have already been studies documenting its miraculous effects such as the ability for the stem cells to regenerate the lost teeth of mice and the near-complete restoration of the eyesight of certain rats as well.
With that being said, although the iPS holds the same abilities that are also present in the original embryonic stem cells, they were not considered to be exactly the same.
There are various methods to create the iPS, but different scientists have now approved that despite the major difference of how they are created, their uses are practically the same.
Therefore, they are now considered similar and will now be used for further testing and research for them to come up with suitable treatment options in the future.