What are Stem Cells?

Mysterious, magical, life altering, life enhancing, life prolonging, life saving, wonder cells!

At the beginning of life is the "FIRST CELL." This first stem cell or oocyte is totipotent. It is capable of generating every other cell of the body. As this first stem cell divides, it becomes different embryonic layers - the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm.

The ectoderm layer becomes specialized into neurons and glia cells. The glia help nourish and protect the neurons and divide into oligodendrocytes that produce myelin. Myelin sheaths are layers of insulation around nerves, much like the black insulation around electrical wires in a house. Instead of being black, the glia cells are white and form the "white matter" of the brain and the blood-brain-barrier. This white matter is destroyed in multiple sclerosis but appears to be repairable with umbilical cord stem cells. Neurons are considered "grey matter."

Stem cells that come from the mesoderm layer make red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, as well as bone, muscle, fat, cartilage and skin. Stem cells of the endoderm layer develop into cells for the digestive system and lungs.

Many of these different types of primitive stem cells are also present in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies.

Since 1988, this cord blood has been used experimentally in the United States and other countries to replenish the blood and bone marrow in cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy.

CD34+ stem cells from cord blood

Over the past three years, technologies have been developed that isolate the stem cells from the cord blood. These isolated stem cells from healthy type O (universal donor) cord blood produce little or no immune reactions.

This research has opened new horizons for stem cell research. Cord stem cells are the safest stem cell. They are multipotent, able to divide into a variety of cells, and they show great promise as therapies for brain injuries and disorders, especially in young people.

Another milestone in cord stem cell research was in 2005, when Dr. Steenblock worked with other scientists to produce a cord stem cell that would carry the SOD (superoxide dismutase) gene to help ALS patients fight against free radical damage. Additional progress is being made now with combining growth factors with the cord stem cells. Those wishing to help support this pioneering work are invited to click here.

This information is presented for educational purposes only.

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