There are three main categories of stem cells:
Embryonic stem cells
- AssureImmune does not collect or use embryonic stem cells.
- Embryonic stem cells are stem cells derived from embryos. These embryos have developed in vitro fertilized eggs donated for research purposes with the informed consent of the donors.
- Embryonic stem cells are harvested within four to five days of fertilization when the embryo is a hollow microscopic ball of cells called the blastocyst. The harvesting process must necessarily destroy the embryo.
- Researchers are very interested in studying embryonic stem cells because of their ability to reproduce indefinitely and because they are totipotent: An embryonic stem cell has the ability to become every single cell in the body including placenta cells.
- Although much research is being conducted, to date, there are no successful therapies using embryonic stem cells.
Cord blood stem cells
- Cord blood stem cells are cells collected from the umbilical cord of the newborn after birth. This blood offers a primary stem cell source of particularly high quality – young, relatively flawless and free of infection contamination. Cord blood stem cells carry the unique and phenomenal biological ability to transform into different types of cells in the body, continually dividing and renewing themselves.
- Collection of stem cells from umbilical cord blood is a fast and simple process; it does not require contact with the baby, and is neither painful nor dangerous for the newborn or mother.
- Modern medicine enables us to collect cord blood and preserve it for decades, retrieving it immediately, should the need arise, to treat severe diseases.
- Support for the use of cord blood cells is widespread and there are currently no serious ethical concerns as compared to other stem cells. Stem cell therapy that uses umbilical cord cells is quite straight forward.
Adult stem cells
- Adult stem cells can be found in bone marrow and peripheral blood. An adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell found among differentiated cells in bone marrow, peripheral blood, tissues and organs. It can renew itself indefinitely and can also differentiate to yield the specialized cell types of the tissue or organ.
- The primary roles of adult stem cells in a living organism are to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found.
- These properties make adult stem cells ideal for regenerative therapies. In this area stem cell research is focusing on finding treatments and cures for diseases of the blood, immune system, tissues and organs.