Hi, I joined this forum with the understanding of the need to have stem cells in order to cultivate human skin. I am in no way a scientist, but i have a question: if a female can create stem cells when pregnant, why cant we recreate this in a lab? I am sure that there are many answers to this all debunking the capabilities of this, but just think: if we can cultivate stem cells then we would be able to generate body parts, or an entire human. In theory, if we can simulate the growth of a baby, then cant we also grow stem cells from the umbilical cord? Thank you for reading through the end of this rant, and I hope to be able understand your answers.
Stem Cell Culture Theory
Posted 27 October 2014 - 12:00 PM
Females don't create stem cells during pregnancy, the ovum (egg) and sperm combine to create a fully competent cell that could be classified as a stem cell in that it is capable of producing any and all types of other cells. But (and this is the important bit) this is NOT done by the female, the fertilized egg is a separate entity. What the female does is provide an environment for the cell(s) to grow.
Actually, we (any multicellular organism as far as I know) all contain stem cells - these are what keeps you producing blood cells, skin, gut lining, help repair skin when you cut yourself etc. The reason we can't convert these into organs yet, is that we don't know enough about how those are formed. In the fertilized egg, there are signals from all sorts of things including hormones (both from the mother and produced by the growing baby), genes turning on and off, etc., that tell certain cells to do certain things. We are only just starting to understand some of how this works.
Another problem is that the stem cells we all have are what is called "differentiated" which means that they have specialized for a certain job (e.g. producing more skin cells), and we don't yet understand how this happens, or how to fully turn cells back to where they are capable of producing all types of cells. In addition, cells, when you grow them in the lab tend to have a defined life time, in that they will only divide a certain number of times before they will stop dividing (if you want to know more, look up "Hayflick limit"), and while they do this, they accumulate genetic mutations inside the cells that cause certain genes to switch on or off, making them no longer stem cells.