Stem Cell Facts
Life and the aging process is one of the most mysterious process we are still yet to unravel. Why do we age and how can we stop aging or reverse the effects of the aging process?
These are questions which we would like answered and in recent years, one of the most important steps towards answering these questions has involved stem cell research.
There has been a lot of research into stem cell therapy, but if you are not scientifically minded, most of it can just slide right over the top of your head. So let’s take a look at the facts about stem cell research and stem cell therapy and check out how stem cells and skin care products can combine to give us a healthier, younger and fresher complexion.
What is a stem cell?
Any organism that is composed of more than one single cell, has stem cells. They are a type of building block or special cell that are very different to typical cells in two specific ways.
First, stem cells can replicate themselves repeatedly without stopping. You most probably know that most cells can replicate or renew themselves a certain number of times before the process can no longer continue. Well, stem cells don’t have this end point and can replicate themselves endlessly, even if they have been dormant for a long time.
Second, stem cells can turn themselves into any type of cell. So under the right circumstances they can become a brain cell, a skin cell, muscle or tissue cells. As far as we know there are very few limitations on the capabilities of stem cells.
Every time a stem cell replicates, it can form any type of cell, so you have an infinite supply of new cells on tap that are used to replenish other cells.
These two characteristics of stem cells make them singularly unique and they are why there has been so much research into stem cells to help both cure illness and disease, as well as to prevent aging.
What are embryonic stem cells?
These are stem cells which are harvested from human embryos, either from abortion clinics or from IVF clinics.
Embryos donated by IVF clinics are either donated by a couple who no longer want to keep the embryos or are donated by the IVF clinic because they were going to be destroyed.
The stem cell controversy is all about harvesting stem cells from embryos and different countries have different moral dilemmas and concerns about collecting and using embryonic stem cells, and they also have different regulations as well.
Essentially, some people believe that full protection should be given to an embryo at the moment an egg is fertilized (at conception) and others believe that this is too soon and should occur at a variety of different stages during pregnancy.
Embryonic stem cells only occur at the earliest stages of pregnancy, when the young embryo is first differentiating into all of it’s different parts. After that, the growing fetus no longer needs these special type of stem cells and they develop tissue specific or adult stem cells, which remain with us throughout our lives.
Research with embryonic stem cells is still ongoing with scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Columbia University Medical Center and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute being recently successful in generating an embryonic stem cell that has a single copy of the human genome. You can read this article here.
What are adult stem cells?
Whilst all of the controversy still abounds concerning embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are a a different matter.
These are also very valuable and will most probably play a major part in disease and rejuvenative therapies in the future.
The one limiting factor with adult stem cells is that they can’t form any type of cells – they are tissue specific and can only replicate specific cells. So a stem cell taken from a muscle can only form other muscle cells, likewise blood stem cells taken from the bone marrow can only form other blood cells.
Adult stem cells are also not as infinitely replicatable as embryonic stem cells and are not proving to be able to treat an infinite number of diseases. Earlier this year there were reports of miraculous results using adult stem cells to treat patients with multiple sclerosis, part of an EDA approved, ongoing trail.
There have also been recent reports of scientists using adult stem cells to treat blindness by growing another lens in the eye. They have successfully treated 12 infants born with congenital cataracts and now intent to look at curing age related cataracts as well.
Adult stem cells in our skin
Stem cells in our epidermis work overtime to repair and replace our skin cells, due to injury or old age. The problem is that adult stem cells can only replicate themselves a certain number of times and over time they seem to run out of energy.
Just as an example, when we are young our skin heals from an injury very fast, but when we are a lot older, our skin takes longer to heal. Part of this is because our stem cells are nearly the end of their use by date and the healing process takes longer.
Environmental pollution, sun damage and a general aging process all combine to reduce the number and effectiveness of the adult stem cells in our skin. Whilst we still don’t understand the aging process fully, the inability of our stem cells to continue regenerating is part of the problem.
This is why your skin becomes wrinkled and lacks definition as we age. This is why the skin care industry has started to look at using plant stem cells to help turn back the ravages of time in our skin.
What are plant stem cells?
Plant stem cells are equivalent to our adult stem cells, in that they have the ability to self-renew and replace specific plant cells. A plant’s stem cells are responsible for their new spring leaves and continued growth, so whilst they won’t stimulate our own stem cells to regenerate, they can help to protect our skin.
Plant stem cells are said to have remarkable properties, for example they can:
- Help to promote the regeneration of our skin’s cells.
- Help our own adult stem cells to live longer in our skin.
- Delay the effects of aging on our skin and keep our skin looking younger for longer.
Plant stem cells contain both growth factors and proteins and using innovative plant stem cell technology, scientists are able to extract stem cells derived from plant botanicals for use in anti-aging skin care products.
Plant stem cells derived from grapes, lilacs and the Swiss apple are commonly used in skin care products, designed to bring the glow of youth back to our complexions.
What skincare products contain stem cells?
One of the most popular skincare lines to include growth factors from patented human adult stem cells, which help to rejuvenate your skin is LifeLine.
With lots of antioxidants and other nourishing ingredients, the Lifeline range of skincare products leaves your skin feeling smoother and looking more radiant.
Their face creams and serums defend your skin against environmental pollutants and free radicals and help to retain moisture, support collagen and reduce DNA damage.
They are expensive, so they might not be for everyone, but if you really want to have more natural looking, youthful skin, then they are seriously worth considering.
The plant botanicals in Image Skincare are derived from apples and along with peptides and hyaluronic acid, this serum helps to plump up your collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and give your skin a more youthful complexion that can last up to 48 hours.