What is meant by embryonic stem cells?

The only way to cure the diabetes disease is by pancreas re-plantation. However, due to the shortage of organ donations and other factors there remains a greatly insufficient supply of organs.But this can be overcome by obtaining organs generated in the lab by culturing certain cells of our body, called stem cells. The stem cells are capable of self-renewal and have the ability to divide and differentiate through a variety of stages to produce the mature tissues.

There are two types of stem cells in our body 1. somatic stem cells, 2. embryonic stem cells. The somatic stem cells are cells taken from mature tissues. The stem cells of bone marrow are an example. The bone marrow stem cells are pluripotent and give rise to progenitor cells, which differentiate to produce lymphocytes and multi potent precursors called myeloid progenitors, from which myeloid series are derived. The embryonic stem cells are cells taken from blastocyte, which is an embryo removed from the womb or brought from the fertility clinic.

The embryonic stem cells are more flexible the somatic stem cells. They can proliferate far more than stem cells from adults, producing far more descendant cells. This is important because many millions of cells are needed to repair organs. In addition the embryonic stem cells can differentiate into all the tissues of the body while a given type of adult stem cells seems to differentiate into only a small set of tissue types destined to them.

The derivatives of embryonic stem cells can be optimised to produce differentiated growth. For example, by adding and removing certain proteins these cells are directed to develop in the lab into new heart, bone, pancreas or other cells.

Source : The Hindu