Stem cells have great therapeutic and biotechnological potential-but we also need them to live, day in and day out.
Stem cells renew themselves throughout life. Each cell divides to produce two identical daughter cells and thereby maintain the stem cell population. Stem cells have the remarkable potential to then develop into many different cell types in the body. A stem cell can divide to supply one identical daughter cell and one daughter cell that will respond to changes in the environment. That daughter cell will undergo differentiation to become a specialized progeny cell.
Stem cells are at the core of the tissue regeneration process. They are required to rebuild and repair damaged tissue at an injury site. The progenitor cells migrate to the site of injury or deficit to reconstruct the organ. Every day, stem cells constantly divide and differentiate to renew the tissues that they populate, receiving signals from the immediate surroundings where the deficit is located.
Mesenchymal stem cells associated with musculoskeletal tissue differentiate into chondrocytes to repair cartilage or myocytes to repair muscle and/or tendons. Imagine the necessity of stem cells in the heart and lungs. Our beating hearts and nonstop breaths endure even during sleep, so of course blood-forming stem cells, gut epithelium stem cells, and skin-forming stem cells must be constantly replaced for normal health. Mesenchymal stem cells located in the wall of the vasculature function as cell sources for repair and tissue maintenance, thus keeping us alive!