No matter how big a human becomes, it all began with 2 single cells: an ovum and a sperm cell. This means that cells exist, which have the potential to form a complete human being. The first cells to arise from a fertilized ovum are described as totipotent (“potent for everything”). After a few days in the womb, the blastocyst forms. The cells contained in it are called embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are still very unspecialized, and have the ability to divide endlessly and develop into all of the 220 human cell types. However, a whole human cannot arise from these few cells. They have lost their toti-virility and are described as pluripotent (“potent for many”). As soon as the human’s development is completed, these former all-arounders will have changed into mature, differentiated cells, taking over a specific function in our body (e.g. neurocytes which conduct electric impulses, muscle cells which contract and ß-cells of the pancreas which produce insulin).
However, skin renews itself throughout adulthood. Injuries heal and hair grows. Until the end of our lives, we have cells which are very unspecialized, can divide often, helping our bodies to regenerate and repair themselves. These cells are called adult stem cells. To date, adult stem cells have been found in nearly every body tissue (e.g. skin, brain, blood, liver and bone marrow), but also in cord blood and in the cord itself. So stem cells play a big role in our regeneration and healing processes.
Biological function of adult stem cells
If body tissue is damaged, stem cells hunt for the damaged area and advance the process of healing. However, day-to-day processes in the human body also rely on stem cells: our erythrocytes only live for about 120 to 130 days, by which time they have become too old, cannot transport enough oxygen and have to be replaced. This task is taken over by the hematopoietic stem cells, which can be found in the bone marrow. According to theoretical calculations, about 350 million new erythrocytes are formed every minute. Most of the other somatic cells are also replaced regularly: liver cells after 10 to 15 days, white blood cells after 1 to 3 days.
In theory, the body has its own repair system. So why do people still become terminally ill? And why does the organism age if it has the ability to regenerate itself?
Limits of regeneration
One established theory is that special messengers lock-in adult stem cells in the damaged area. However, they often do not arrive in sufficient numbers or may even fail to arrive at all because the artery is blocked. The damaged area then only heals very slowly or may not heal at all if the cause of the disease is not eradicated. It might also be possible that some diseases develop covertly and are not recognized as being in need of repair. Another problem: adult stem cells also age. They have much higher regeneration potential than differentiated somatic cells, but it seems that this potential is exhausted after 130 years at the latest. Up to now, the oldest woman in the world lived in France and reached 122 years of age. The process of aging cannot be stopped. However, with the help of modern medicine, it is possible to extract stem cells from the body, clean them, concentrate them and then apply them to the diseased area. In many cases, the physiological healing process can be enhanced. This is exactly what we do at Cell4health no more and no less: we assist your body by bringing in your own cells at the injuried or damaged sites to restore the natural healing capabilities of your own body.