Stem Cells aren't actually a type of cell
Posted in the Purdue University Forum
#1 Feb 17, 2013
Something interested a learned from a Q+A with Chinese stem cell researcher Rongxiang Xu:
"Q: Why has there been so much confusion around what constitutes a stem cell?
First of all, back around the year 2000, scientists started to use the term stem cell quite loosely if they achieved even one of the criteria.
Secondly, the term stem cell is quite misunderstood. There is not actually a type of cell that is a stem cell in the same way that there is, say, a blood cell. A stem cell is actually a stage that a cell goes through. It is analogous to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a cocoon and then a butterfly. The stem cell stage is a lot like the cocoon stage.
Q: Has this misunderstanding led to any misuse or abuse of how stem cells were used?
Yes, absolutely. To study life science you have to follow the natural pattern of life, otherwise you will never get natural results. Other scientists experimenting with stem cells did not start correctly.
Authentic stem cells represent natural cells within our bodies undergoing a stage of transformation. To go back to the caterpillar analogy, you cannot harvest a cocoon, because it is in the transition phase, but this is exactly what other scientists have done by harvesting stem cells external to the body. If cocoon tissue were removed and isolated from its metamorphosis, it is taken out of its natural physiological context and loses its essential properties. The authentic stem cell should not be something you can pause, study and harvest."
#2 Feb 17, 2013
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