Of all of the possible techniques and strategies that can lead us as a species to find a way to increase our size, the advent of stem cells is one of the most promising ideas. In this post, I wanted to give a very general and brief introduction to our journey into the subject of stem cells to search for a solution to our height increase endeavor. This first post will definitely won’t be the last post on this subject since there is so much research currently being done in this subject to look for solutions to some of our biggest medical and cosmetic problems we face in our modern era.
If we remember from our high school or college biology classes, we might remember that we all came from the zygotic formation brought by the male gamete the sperm coming into fusion with the female gamete the egg. From this initial single organism zygote we are slowly developed into something resembling a human baby in our mother’s uterus. The curous person would be asking the question “Just how exactly does the zygote figure out how to grow and develop into the product of a human baby? That comes from the instructions in the cell called DNA. DNA stand for deoxyribonucleic acid, which is a double helix structure which has at its most basic level only 4 types of nucleotides bases being repeated and sorted in a certain order. From the way the nucleotide bases are set up, we get our codons, which organize themselves to form genes. the genes are really just segments of biological instruction ,or information. The information is what really tells the cells what to do. That is where almost all of genetics and the study of stem cells begins.
The stem cell is a type of cell which can differentiate itself and transform into another type of cell which has a specialized function as well as self generate more of itself. The ability of the stem cell to turn into so many different types of cells allows its application into the medical sciences to be nearly endless. If we can get certain stem cells to regrow into the tyep fo tissues and even organs that we wnat, we can essentially treat our body like a car, where if a specific part is damaged or not functioning, we can go into out body and replace the damaged tissue from the stem cell derived results.
If we look at the diagram to our left we can see just what types of diseases and pathologies stem cells therapy can potentially treat. Some of the possibilities can seem to come from science fiction.
Stroke, Baldness, Blindness, Learning Defects, Deafness Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Missing Teeth, Teeth cavitations, Wond healing, Brain Injuries, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Myocardial Infarction, Muscular Dystrophy, Diabetes, Bone marrow transplantation, Spinal cord injury, Multiple types of cancer, Osteoarthiritis, Crohn’s Disease.
It would seem from this list that our desire to use stem cells to increase our height seems almost insignificant when we consider what other applications stem cell therapies can be used for. It is a real shame the the US government and scientific community has been slow or even against the research of stem cell therapy. What often has to happen is that if a person suffering from a specific pathology wanted to use stem cell therapy as treatment, they have to leave the US and get it somewhere else.
I don’t have a Ph. D so I don’t feel like I am qualified to explain to you all the most important aspects of stem cells so I will leave most of the instructioning to Wikiepdia.
From the Wikipedia Article on Stem Cells found HERE, I wanted to post a few of the main points about the unique cells.
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide (through mitosis) and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass ofblastocysts, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all the specialized cells (these are called pluripotent cells), but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues.
There are three accessible sources of autologous adult stem cells in humans:
- Bone marrow, which requires extraction by harvesting, that is, drilling into bone (typically the femur or iliac crest),
- Adipose tissue (lipid cells), which requires extraction by liposuction, and
- Blood, which requires extraction through pheresis, wherein blood is drawn from the donor (similar to a blood donation), passed through a machine that extracts the stem cells and returns other portions of the blood to the donor.
Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood just after birth. Of all stem cell types, autologous harvesting involves the least risk. By definition, autologous cells are obtained from one’s own body, just as one may bank his or her own blood for elective surgical procedures.
Highly plastic adult stem cells are routinely used in medical therapies, for example in bone marrow transplantation. Stem cells can now be artificially grown and transformed (differentiated) into specialized cell types with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves through cell culture. Embryonic cell lines and autologous embryonic stem cells generated through therapeutic cloning have also been proposed as promising candidates for future therapies.
The classical definition of a stem cell requires that it possess two properties:
- Self-renewal: the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining the undifferentiated state.
- Potency: the capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. In the strictest sense, this requires stem cells to be either totipotent or pluripotent—to be able to give rise to any mature cell type, althoughmultipotent or unipotent progenitor cells are sometimes referred to as stem cells. Apart from this it is said that stem cell function is regulated in a feed back mechanism.
Two mechanisms to ensure that a stem cell population is maintained exist:
- Obligatory asymmetric replication: a stem cell divides into one father cell that is identical to the original stem cell, and another daughter cell that is differentiated
- Stochastic differentiation: when one stem cell develops into two differentiated daughter cells, another stem cell undergoes mitosis and produces two stem cells identical to the original.
Pluripotent, embryonic stem cells originate as inner cell mass (ICM) cells within a blastocyst. These stem cells can become any tissue in the body, excluding a placenta. Only cells from an earlier stage of the embryo, known as the morula, are totipotent, able to become all tissues in the body and the extraembryonic placenta.
Human embryonic stem cells
A: Cell colonies that are not yet differentiated.
B: Nerve cell
Main article: Cell potency
Potency specifies the differentiation potential (the potential to differentiate into different cell types) of the stem cell.
- Totipotent (a.k.a. omnipotent) stem cells can differentiate into embryonic and extraembryonic cell types. Such cells can construct a complete, viable organism. These cells are produced from the fusion of an egg and sperm cell. Cells produced by the first few divisions of the fertilized egg are also totipotent.
- Pluripotent stem cells are the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate into nearly all cells, i.e. cells derived from any of the three germ layers.
- Multipotent stem cells can differentiate into a number of cells, but only those of a closely related family of cells.
- Oligopotent stem cells can differentiate into only a few cells, such as lymphoid or myeloid stem cells.
- Unipotent cells can produce only one cell type, their own, but have the property of self-renewal, which distinguishes them from non-stem cells (e.g., muscle stem cells).
The practical definition of a stem cell is the functional definition—a cell that has the potential to regenerate tissue over a lifetime. For example, the defining test for a bone marrow or hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) is the ability to transplant one cell and save an individual without HSCs. In this case, a stem cell must be able to produce new blood cells and immune cells over a long term, demonstrating potency. It should also be possible to isolate stem cells from the transplanted individual, which can themselves be transplanted into another individual without HSCs, demonstrating that the stem cell was able to self-renew.
Properties of stem cells can be illustrated in vitro, using methods such as clonogenic assays, in which single cells are assessed for their ability to differentiate and self-renew. Stem cells can also be isolated by their possession of a distinctive set of cell surface markers. However, in vitro culture conditions can alter the behavior of cells, making it unclear whether the cells will behave in a similar manner in vivo. There is considerable debate as to whether some proposed adult cell populations are truly stem cells.
Embryonic stem (ES) cell lines are cultures of cells derived from the epiblast tissue of the inner cell mass (ICM) of a blastocyst or earlier morula stage embryos. A blastocyst is an early stage embryo—approximately four to five days old in humans and consisting of 50–150 cells. ES cells are pluripotent and give rise during development to all derivatives of the three primary germ layers: ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. In other words, they can develop into each of the more than 200 cell types of the adult body when given sufficient and necessary stimulation for a specific cell type. They do not contribute to the extra-embryonic membranes or the placenta. The endoderm is composed of the entire gut tube and the lungs, the ectoderm gives rise to the nervous system and skin, and the mesoderm gives rise to muscle, bone, blood—in essence, everything else that connects the endoderm to the ectoderm.
Stem cell division and differentiation. A: stem cell; B: progenitor cell; C: differentiated cell; 1: symmetric stem cell division; 2: asymmetric stem cell division; 3: progenitor division; 4: terminal differentiation
Also known as somatic (from Greek Σωματικóς, “of the body”) stem cells and germline (giving rise to gametes) stem cells, they can be found in children, as well as adults.
Pluripotent adult stem cells are rare and generally small in number but can be found in a number of tissues including umbilical cord blood. A great deal of adult stem cell research to date has had the aim of characterizing the capacity of the cells to divide or self-renew indefinitely and their differentiation potential. In mice, pluripotent stem cells are directly generated from adult fibroblast cultures. Unfortunately, many mice do not live long with stem cell organs.
Most adult stem cells are lineage-restricted (multipotent) and are generally referred to by their tissue origin (mesenchymal stem cell, adipose-derived stem cell, endothelial stem cell, dental pulp stem cell, etc.).
Adult stem cell treatments have been successfully used for many years to treat leukemia and related bone/blood cancers through bone marrow transplants.
Multipotent stem cells are also found in amniotic fluid. These stem cells are very active, expand extensively without feeders and are not tumorigenic. Amniotic stem cells are multipotent and can differentiate in cells of adipogenic, osteogenic, myogenic, endothelial, hepatic and also neuronal lines. All over the world, universities and research institutes are studying amniotic fluid to discover all the qualities of amniotic stem cells…
These are not adult stem cells, but rather adult cells (e.g. epithelial cells) reprogrammed to give rise to pluripotent capabilities. Using genetic reprogramming with protein transcription factors, pluripotent stem cells equivalent to embryonic stem cells have been derived from human adult skin tissue
To ensure self-renewal, stem cells undergo two types of cell division (see Stem cell division and differentiation diagram). Symmetric division gives rise to two identical daughter cells both endowed with stem cell properties. Asymmetric division, on the other hand, produces only one stem cell and a progenitor cell with limited self-renewal potential. Progenitors can go through several rounds of cell division before terminally differentiating into a mature cell. It is possible that the molecular distinction between symmetric and asymmetric divisions lies in differential segregation of cell membrane proteins (such as receptors) between the daughter cells.
Stem cell treatments
Stem cell treatments are a type of intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Many medical researchers believe that stem cell treatments have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects
Me: I wanted to add for this last part that the list of pathologies that stem cell therapy can be used to treat for is really long and amazing. If you wanted to read up on all the types of things stem cells can be use to be treated for, click on the Wikipedia article on Stem Cell Treatments located HERE.