NOV 23, 2017 09:17 AM PST

What are Stem Cells?

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Most people have heard of stem cells, which are often used in laboratory research and are being developed and tested for therapeutic use in humans. In this video, you can get an overview of what stem cells are and why they are so special.

The most incredible thing about stem cells that makes them so attractive for scientific and medical use is that they can become any type of cell in the body. After all, our body is made up of cells, and those cells are not all one type; they are specialized to form organs and tissues and all of the unique parts of organisms. Stem cells start out as a kind of generic template, and they can differentiate into any specific cell. They are also able to reproduce and make more copies of themselves.

Stem cells are not easy to harvest for use in the lab, and obtaining them was a highly controversial issue until a scientist, Shinya Yamanaka, created a technique to make them in the lab. Now scientists only have to harvest human skin cells in order to make stem cells for experimental purposes.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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