A stem cell is a cell in a living organism that is undifferentiated, that is, does not perform a specialized function in the body but is capable of changing into a specialized cell. In an embryo, almost all of the cells are stem cells that can differentiate into any type of cell. There are still stem cells in adults found in the bone marrow, fat and blood and act to repair those tissues, but their range of differentiation is more limited.
Bone marrow transplant is a well established therapy that uses a form of stem cell to treat many diseases of the blood. However, modern medical research is focussing on embryonic stem cells to build replacement tissue to treat many other types of genetic and degenerative disease.
On the series[edit | edit source]
- In Not Cancer, the patients received cancerous stem cells from transplanted tissues. The cells partially differentiated, but did not perform their assigned functions, leading to different types of organ failure.
- In Small Sacrifices, the patient was treated with an experimental stem cell treatment for his Marburg's multiple sclerosis