Researchers have discovered that Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are one of the most powerful forms of stem cells found in the human body. They are multipotent stem cells that have the ability to turn into a variety of other cell types including fat cells, cartilage cells, bone cells, and muscle cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells have a number of advantages over other types of stem cells, including the fact that they can be obtained from discarded umbilical cord blood and other donated tissue. This helps researchers avoid the ethical implications associated with embryonic stem cell, which are taken from human embryos.
Researchers have also discovered that mesenchymal stem cells are immunoprivileged, which means they can be used for allogenic transplantation (where the recipient and donor are not related). There is a lower risk of the transplant being rejected by the recipient and there is less of risk of graft vs host disease, where the donated tissue attacks the recipient’s cells.
Finally, MSCs have the advantage of being able to change into many other types of cells. This means they can be used to regenerate tissue within the human body — repairing bone, tendons, meniscus tears, and many other injuries. Researchers have also found MSCs can regulate the immune system, alter paracrine signalling, and helping cells move to sites of damage.
These advantages have encouraged scientists to further investigate mesenchymal stem cells, and has led to some astonishing medical breakthroughs. There are already more than 36,000 research papers focussing on MSCs, so scientists already have a strong understanding of this type of cell and its potential applications.
Because they are a non-controversial form of stem cell, researchers have been able to perform extensive research and discover the properties of MSCs. Researchers can easily obtain MSCs from bone marrow and adipose tissue for their experiments. MSCs can also be grown in a culture, which is a significant advantage over some other forms of stem cells, which cannot be isolated or expanded easily.
Scientists continue to explore the potential of this powerful type of stem cell. They are excited about the discoveries that will occur in 2017!