Adult Stem Cells vs. Embryonic Stem Cells

When stem cells and their amazing properties first made the news, much of the focus was on a specific type called “embryonic” stem cells.  Many people have raised ethical concerns about embryonic stem cells, primarily because they are harvested from destroyed human embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization.

The information on this website is regarding possible treatments for pain and injury that only utilize adult stem cells, NEVER embryonic stem cells.

Here are some key differences between adult and embryonic stem cells:

Embryonic Stem Cells

Requires destruction of human embryos

 

Come from another person and may be rejected by the patient’s body

 

May cause tumors at the point of injection

Adult Stem Cells

Do not harm the donor

 

Come from the patient’s own body and will not be rejected

 

Have shown no risk for tumor formation, supported by a study of nearly 2,000 patients with an average follow-up of more than 12 years

Embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are three to five days old. At this stage, an embryo is called a blastocyst and has about 150 cells. Embryonic stem can divide into more stem cells or become any type of cell in the human body. Use in people has been limited to eye-related disorders such as macular degeneration.

Adult stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat. Compared with embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are more limited in their ability to become different cells in the body. Until recently, researchers thought adult stem cells could create only similar types of cells. For instance, it was believed that stem cells residing in the bone marrow could give rise only to blood cells. Continuing research results suggest that adult stem cells may be able to create unrelated types of cells.