What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are cells that can reproduce themselves and give rise to other kinds of cells. Most cells in our bodies are not stem cells. Some, like blood precursor cells, can give rise to various kinds of blood cells, but can't reproduce themselves. Others, like nerve cells, simply stop dividing at all and last most of our lives. Stem cells are the seed corn of our organs and tissues. When we get a cut on the finger or when old blood cells need to be replaced, stem cells in the skin or in the bone marrow swing into action and create the skin or blood cells that bring the body back to normal. Every organ in our body has stem cells that have the capacity to repair that organ, although stem cells are less active as we get older and in some organs or tissues are not very active at all for most of our lives. If we learn how to activate or reactive tissue specific stem cells, we may be able to repair the damage that accumulates due to disease or aging.

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