Fetal stem cells are said to be pluripotent as they are able to differentiate into the precursor cells of any type of blood cell. The process, known as haemopoiesis, leads to the formation of red blood cells, or one of the several types of white blood cells.
Stem cells are unique cells of the body in that they are unspecialized and have the ability to develop into several different types of cells. They are different from specialized cells, such as heart or blood cells, in that they can replicate many times, for long periods of time. This ability is what is known as proliferation.
Unlike other cells, stem cells also have the ability to differentiate or develop into specialized cells for specific organs or develop into tissues. In some tissues, such as muscle or brain tissue, stem cells can even regenerate to aid in the replacement of damaged cells.
Stem cells come from several sources in the body. The names of the cells below indicate the sources from which they are derived.
Embryonic Stem Cells
These stem cells come from embryos in the early stages of development. They have the ability to differentiate into any type of cell in the initial stages of development and become slightly more specialized as they mature.
Fetal Stem Cells
These stem cells come from a fetus. At about nine weeks, a maturing embryo enters into the fetal stage of development. Fetal stem cells are found in fetal tissues, blood and bone marrow. They have the potential to develop into almost any type of cell.
Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells
These stem cells are derived from umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord stem cells are similar to those found in mature or adult stem cells. They are specialized cells that develop into specific types of cells.
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