Many cells look different, because because some of the genes they cintain are switched off, as the cell matures, this is called differentiation. When a cell has differentiated into a particualr kind of cell, it loses the ability to divide and produce more cells of another kind.
Some cells however stay undifferentiated, it means that they cannot divide and make cells of different kinds. Cells that do this are stem cells. Stem cells are beileved to cure medical conditions, like a person who has broken their spinal cord and is paralysed, as the nerve cells cannot repair the damage. In the future it may be possible to use stem cells to repair a broken spinal cord.
Obtaining Stem Cells
The most useful stem cells come from embryos that are a few days old., At this stage, an embryo is just a tiny ball of undifferentiated cells.A newly fertilised egg is totipotent as it can divide to form an organism. Once the embryo has reached 50-100 cells, it is called pluripotent, as they are able to become any cell type, but not a whole new organism. This is because some cell differentiation has begun.
Adult stem cells can become one of many different cells, but are not pluripotent. Stem cells are found in bone marrow, in certain bones. These stem cells are multipotent as they can form several but not all different types of cells. Stem cells in the bone marrow can produce all the many different blood cells, but no other kind of cell.
Potential uses of Stem cell