Why is there so much interest in plant stem cell
technology? The answer may lie in the simple fact that
it removes the ethical dilemma plaguing the scientific
community. Plant stem cells allow the opportunity to
harness the power of stem cells without the controversy
that surrounds human stem cell harvesting.
Stem cells are some of the most important cells in
the human body. They are biological cells that have the
potential to regenerate tissue over a lifetime. They are
unprogrammed; found in all multicellular organisms;
can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized
cell types with specific functions; and can self-renew to
produce more stem cells.
In humans and animals, there are two broad types of
stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from
the inner cell mass of blastocysts; and adult stem cells,
which are found in various tissues. In adult organisms,
stem cells and progenitor cells act as repair systems
for the body, replenishing adult tissues. In a developing
embryo, stem cells can not only differentiate into all of
the specialized cells—called pluripotent cells—but also
maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs,
such as blood, skin or intestinal tissues.
The classical definition of a stem cell requires that it
possess the following two properties.
•;Self-renewal: The ability to go through numerous
cycles of cell division while maintaining the
undifferentiated state (replenishing itself).
•;Potency: The capacity to differentiate into
specialized cell types. Stem cells are either
totipotent or pluripotent, meaning they are able to
give rise to any cell type, although multipotent or
unipotent progenitor cells are sometimes referred to
as stem cells.
Human stem cells are found in every human tissue,
including the epidermal layer of the skin. They are
typically activated in response to an injury. They are
also the source of continuous skin growth and cell
regeneration, but can be harmed by internal factors,
such as stress, smoke or an unbalanced diet, as well as
external factors, such as UV radiation or pollution. This
jeopardizes the regenerating capability of stem cells.
It is essential that lost skin stem cells are replenished,
which may be able to be achieved by using products
with plant stem cells.