What is a stem cell?

A stem cell is a cell that through dividing can produce new stem cells and differentiate into different cell types. Stem cells renew tissues by balancing self-renewal and differentiation. Stem cells can either divide symmetrically to produce two new stem cells, or asymmetrically to produce one stem cell and one progenitor cell, which will differentiate to make specialized cells. In this way, stem cells take care of renewing the tissues.

Read more about different types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, tissue stem cells and iPS cells.

Stem cells can self-renew and differentiate into other types of cells. Image: Emilia Kuuluvainen

 

Stem cell research is still a new field of biology and many breakthroughs have been made only during the past 25 years. Read more about stem cell research in Finland and elsewhere.

Stem cells are frequently in the news because of their great medical potential. What diseases can be treated with stem cells today and what can we not do with stem cells? Read more about stem cell therapy.