What is a Stem Cell?

Stem cells are progenitor cells: cells that can change into other types of cells. Stem cells contribute to the body’s ability to renew and repair its own tissues. Unlike mature cells, which are the final phase of a cell and cannot change into another type of cell, stem cells can both renew themselves and create new cells of whatever tissue they belong to (and other tissues). For example, once a bone cell is an osteocyte it cannot turn into a heart muscle cell (myocardial cell). A stem cell can turn into any type of cell.

Stem cells can turn into hair if injected into the scalp, bone if injected into a bone, and cartilage if injected into a damaged joint such as a knee.

They are attracted to sites of injury.

When stem cells are used to treat knee arthritis they do not reduce pain overnight like a cortisone injection because they have to repair the damaged area and that process can take months to occur.

Currently this is one or the newest and most exciting areas of medicine: bioengineering. This is a field that is expanding and will continue to see great growth in the future .

Stem cell recruitment therapy, gene therapy, genetic testing to determine medication efficacy, genetic testing to prevent diseases, and using our own growth factors to heal different pathologies is already being utilized in medicine and in orthopaedic surgery.