Cord blood & cord tissue
Where are stem cells found in the body?
Stem cells differ from normal cells. They can divide themselves, and have a relatively long shelf-life when compared to other human cells. They are not assigned a certain cell type, and thus have the potential to be made into a range of types of cell. There are three basic sources of stem cells:
1. Fetal stem cells come from human beings during the fetal stage of their development, and can be harvested from aborted fetuses or from the umbilical cord when a newborn baby is delivered.
2. Embryonic stem cells come from embryos, and are generally harvested from any frozen embryos that are designated for incineration as medical waste.
3. Adult stem cells are found in a range of different tissues in the human body. Harvesting them is slightly more difficult, but it can be done with minimal pain to the donor.
There is some debate that makes fetal and embryonic stem cells quite a controversial topic. Religious and political points of view regarding aborted fetuses and storing embryos make the whole area quite complex, but it is believed that they could be the key to curing a huge range of different diseases. The balance in the argument between pro-life activists and advocates of the benefits of stem cell research will continue to shift, but there is no doubting the power of stem cells to combat an array of debilitating and life-threatening conditions that face the human race.