Max MacCloud, aka The Nutrition Ninja Doc, here for a brief discussion about Stem Cells.
My goal is to provide balanced, accurate information to help you make better informed decisions about your health. I am continually appalled at the sheer volume and persistence of misinformation out there. Not only is the internet full of misleading information, but most books, scientific studies, podcasts, and every other communication platform are just as bad. And, while there are some wonderful educational materials, including podcasts and online, many are just way TOO long to really be accessible. Spending one to two hours listening to a podcast and coming away with 5 minutes worth of relevant information is a fairly steep price to pay given the value of our time.
The world of Progressive, Integrative, and Anti-Aging Medicine is a buzz with talk about Stem Cells. This presentation will help you to gain a better understanding of Stem Cells.
Adult stem cells are some of the coolest cells in the human body. They're like tiny superheroes, hiding out in various tissues and waiting for their moment to save the day. These cells are capable of self-renewal and have the ability to differentiate into many different cell types, making them extremely versatile. But what exactly are adult stem cells, and why are they so important?
First off, it's important to understand what stem cells are. Simply put, stem cells are cells that have not yet decided what they want to be when they grow up. They have the ability to differentiate into many different cell types, such as bone, cartilage, muscle, nerve, and other cell types depending on several variables and environmental conditions. This makes them incredibly valuable for medical treatments and regenerative medicine.
Now, you might be thinking, "Wait a minute, I thought stem cells were only found in embryos!" While it's true that embryonic stem cells are a type of stem cell that were involved in some of the early research, adult stem cells are also a vital part of our anatomy and possess many similar properties. In fact, adult stem cells can be found in a variety of tissues throughout the body, including the brain, bone marrow, and skin. These cells are incredibly important for maintaining tissue health and repairing damage. The vast majority of these cells reside as pericytes on the outside walls of capillaries
throughout the body, until they are released and activated to become ‘adult’ stem cells. Almost any injury will damage some capillaries which causes the release and activation of our resident ‘adult or mesenchymal’ stem cells (MSCs) to help with the repair process.
It is worth noting here that as we age the number of stem cells declines significantly. This helps to account for the slower, often incomplete, healing of injuries as people age. Additionally, many studies over the past 20 years involving the capillaries demonstrate that most people have significant capillary damage as they age. This, in turn, would likely correspond to a significant reduction in the number of viable pericytes that can be activated to become MSCs.
Adult Stem Cells were given the technical name of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) over 30 years ago, as they are able to differentiate into all the cell types that arise from the mesoderm layer (the middle layer) of the embryo. Based on more recent research, that name is really obsolete. There is a proposal from one of the top researchers, Arnold Caplan, that they be renamed Medicinal Signaling Cells as they secrete a number of important substances that activate the individual’s own resident stem cells along with a variety of immune and regenerative processes.
Let's take a closer look at what adult stem cells are capable of.
When our bodies are injured or damaged, adult stem cells can quickly respond and differentiate into the specific cells that are needed to repair the damage. For example, if you have a cut on your skin, adult stem cells in the surrounding tissue will differentiate into skin cells to help close the wound. In the bone marrow, adult stem cells differentiate into new blood cells to replace old or damaged ones. This is why bone marrow transplants can be such an effective treatment for conditions like leukemia. Note that bone marrow transplants are a type of stem cell therapy, they have been used successfully for over 60 years.