Types of Stem Cells
There are many different types of stem cells, and it is quite easy to confuse them or mix them up if their differences are not known. Some of these stem cells are very useful within stem cell treatment, whereas others are less useful or potentially harmful. In the following we would like to introduce the most common types of stem cells for your reference:
Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryonic Stem Cells are what you might call the purest form of stem cells. These cells are derived from embryos typically between two to four weeks old. These cells have the ability to form into any other type of cell and to multiply as needed. Unfortunately, impossible to control their growth and multiplication. During treatment this means, that they run a high risk of turning into cancerous cells, which makes them unfit for any type of stem cell treatment.
Fetal Stem Cells
Fetal stem cells are derived from a fetal source, typically not more then 2 months old. Similar to embryonic stem cells, they are very young and have great potential to differentiate and multiply. However, in addition to this it is actually possible to specialize these stem cells, by harvesting them from different parts of the fetus and differentiating them in-vitro, in the laboratory. So while using fetal stem cells in their pure form carries the same risks as using embryonic stem cells, once they are specialized, they have very high potential within stem cell application.
Nervous Progenitor Cells
These stem cells are actually a type of specialized fetal stem cells. They are harvested from the part, which later on will form the fetal brain. This makes them not only predestined to become nervous cells (e.g. neurons) but also guarantees that 100% of these cells are non-blood forming, which makes them very successful in applying them within the central nervous system. They are specialized cells, unlike other stem cells they cannot become any type of cell - they can only form into nervous cells. This also completely excludes them from the risk of forming into cancerous cells and makes them the prime choice for treatment within the nervous system.
Autologus Stem Cells
This is the type of stem cell which we typically describe as adult stem cells. These cells are found throughout the body of every human, mostly within the bone marrow. Typically our body uses these stem cells to replenish our blood, which makes them very high in blood forming stem cells. About 97% of these cells are blood forming which makes them unsuitable for any type of treatment for the central nervous system. Due to the fact that these cells typically have to be cultured from the patient’s body, and then re-injected into the same, which puts great stress on the stem cells. They are also not very effective in treating other conditions. However, there are some technologies which activates these stem cells in-vivo (within the body) without the need of culturing them. In these types of treatments they are mainly used as supporting stem cells for other types of stem cells.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Mesenchymal Stem Cells are typically derived from the umbilical cord blood. Due to the fact that they are easily cultured and differentiated, they are often the preferred choice for stem cell treatment for various conditions to the body (e.g. diabetes, renal function). Still, the majority of these cells, over 80%, are blood forming stem cells, which makes their application within the central nervous system very difficult. However, their intra-vascular application has proven to be very successful.