Stem cells possess three key properties: they are unspecialized, they can renew themselves over time and they can develop into cells with specific functions. Stem cells are broadly classified into two types—embryonic and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can develop into all cell types in the body and are therefore capable of forming an entire organism. In contrast, adult stem cells generally are multipotent and have the ability to develop into the different cell types within the tissue in which they are found, a process also known as differentiation.
Adult stem cells are found in virtually all tissues. Through asymmetrical division, adult stem cells maintain a pool of their own cell type to provide continual repair and regeneration benefits for an organism throughout its life span. Without a pool of effective, proliferating adult stem cells, the continual loss of fully differentiated cells cannot be replenished and the tissue soon loses the ability to function.
Stem Cell Research
In recent years, stem cell research has advanced considerably and new findings have revolutionized the field of regenerative medicine. Traditionally, embryonic stem cells were believed to be the only source of pluripotent cells. However, recent discoveries have shown that it also is possible to restore adult stem cells or differentiated cells to a pluripotent state. Early methods to restore pluripotency or dedifferentiation required substantial genetic modification of the cell, typically using a virus to insert specific genes. The latest experimental results have shown that restoring pluripotency is also possible without altering the underlying DNA sequence. These methods typically use a defined group of small molecules to establish the required gene expression pattern through an intricate web of normal epigenetic control mechanisms that do not alter the DNA.
Lab Practical: Using Stem Cell Extracts
- These materials are white and do not influence the color of the finished formula.
- The materials have no characteristic odor and do not influence the scent of the scent of the finished formula.
- The materials are water-soluble. Sodium benzoate at 0.3% is recommended for preservation.
- The materials are suggested at pH levels of 4.0-8.0; they tolerate pH 2.0-10.0.
- The materials are recommended for use at 0.4-1.0% and clinically tested at 0.04-1.25% in vitro.
- The materials can be incorporated into most cosmetic and dermatological formulations as in emulsions (o/w, w/o) and gels, except water-free formulations.
- It is recommended that formulators dissolve the materials into the aqueous phase (dissolvable up to 20% in water) and add them pre-solved during the cooling phase (< 60°C).