Adult stem cells
A commonly used term for tissue-specific stem cells, cells that can give rise to the specialized cells in specific tissues. Includes all stem cells other than pluripotent stem cells such as embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells.
A transient, hollow ball of 150 to 200 cells formed in early embryonic development that contains the inner cell mass, from which the embryo develops, and an outer layer of cell called the trophoblast, which forms the placenta.
Bone marrow stromal cells
A general term for non-blood cells in the bone marrow, such as fibroblasts, adipocytes (fat cells) and bone- and cartilage-forming cells that provide support for blood cells. Contained within this population of cells are multipotent bone marrow stromal stem cells that can self-renew and give rise to bone, cartilage, adipocytes and fibroblasts.
The process of using scientific knowledge to design, develop and apply new ways to diagnose, stop or fix what goes wrong in a particular disease or injury; the process by which basic scientific research becomes medicine.
The blood in the umbilical cord and placenta after child birth. Cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells, also known as cord blood stem cells, which can regenerate the blood and immune system and can be used to treat some blood disorders such as leukemia or anemia. Cord blood can be stored long-term in blood banks for either public or private use. Also called umbilical cord blood.
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs)
Undifferentiated cells derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst; these cells have the potential to give rise to all cell types in the fully formed organism and undergo self-renewal.
Latin for “in glass.” In biomedical research this refers to experiments that are done outside the body in an artificial environment, such as the study of isolated cells in controlled laboratory conditions (also known as cell culture).
Latin for “within the living.” In biomedical research this refers to experiments that are done in a living organism. Experiments in model systems such as mice or fruit flies are an example of in vivo research.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)
A term used to describe cells isolated from the connective tissue that surrounds other tissues and organs. MSCs were first isolated from the bone marrow and shown to be capable of making bone, cartilage and fat cells. MSCs are now grown from other tissues, such as fat and cord blood. Not all MSCs are the same and their characteristics depend on where in the body they come from and how they are isolated and grown. May also be called mesenchymal stromal cells.
Multipotent stem cells
Stem cells that can give rise to several different types of specialized cells in specific tissues; for example, blood stem cells can produce the different types of cells that make up the blood, but not the cells of other organs such as the liver or the brain.
Pancreatic beta cells
Cells responsible for making and releasing insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Type I diabetes occurs when these cells are attacked and destroyed by the body's immune system.
Perceived or actual improvement in symptoms that cannot be attributed to the placebo itself and therefore must be the result of the patient's (or other interested person's) belief in the treatment's effectiveness.
An intermediate cell type between stem cells and differentiated cells. Precursor cells have the potential to give rise to a limited number or type of specialized cells. Also called progenitor cells.
An intermediate cell type between stem cells and differentiated cells. Progenitor cells have the potential to give rise to a limited number or type of specialized cells and have a reduced capacity for self-renewal. Also called precursor cells.
An interdisciplinary branch of medicine with the goal of replacing, regenerating or repairing damaged tissue to restore normal function. Regenerative treatments can include cellular therapy, gene therapy and tissue engineering approaches.
In the context of stem cell biology, this refers to the conversion of differentiated cells, such as fibroblasts, into embryonic-like iPS cells by artificially altering the expression of key genes.
A systematic process designed to understand a specific observation through the collection of measurable, empirical evidence; emphasis on measurable and repeatable experiments and results that test a specific hypothesis.
Stem cell tourism
The travel to another state, region or country specifically for the purpose of undergoing a stem cell treatment available at that location. This phrase is also used to refer to the pursuit of untested and unregulated stem cell treatments.
Tissue-specific stem cells
Stem cells that can give rise to the specialized cells in specific tissues; blood stem cells, for example, can produce the different types of cells that make up the blood, but not the cells of other organs such as the liver or the brain. Includes all stem cells other than pluripotent stem cells such as embryonic and induced pluripotent cells. Also called adult or somatic stem cells.