Lege Artis Medicinae

[About stem cells]

PAPP Csaba

MAY 20, 2010

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2010;20(05)

[Stem cells are special cells of an organism that are capable to continuously renew themselves and, triggered by environmental effects, to differentiate and produce cells suitable for various functions. Due to their special characteristics, stem cells have an exciting potential to fulfil an old dream of physicians: to replace and regenerate damaged cells and tissues. Regenerative medicine has undoubtedly opened new vistas in medicine and provides hope for those with yet uncurable diseases. Here, we briefly describe different kinds of stem cells and their sources and discuss some of their experimental or clinical applications. Besides the bone marrow, which is now considered a traditional stem cell source, we present alternative sources. Among these, we pay special attention to the two stemcell sources that are important for obstetricians and gynaecologists: the umbilical cord (Wharton’s jelly) and the characteristics of the umbilical cord blood. We discuss some aspects of the storage of cord blood (”stem cell banking“) its potential use. Obstetricians and gynaecologists have an important role and a great responsibility in promoting the collection and, if necessary, the use of these stem cells. Communicating with patients and informing them about the their possible therapeutic applications stem cells is a part of this process as well as obtaining cord blood and preserving a segment of the cord. Obstetricians and gynaecologists should help to save as much as possible the umbilical cord and cord blood, which become ”redundant“ after birth but are a great source of multipotent mesenchymal and haemopoietic stem cells, which can be used in various fields of 21st-century medicine.]

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