Adult vs. Embryonic Stem Cells – Brown University

Advantages of Adult Stem Cells

Both lines of stem cells have an enormous therapeutic potential. While embryonic stem cells offer the potential for wider therapeutic applications, adult stem cells avoid the ethical issues roused by embryonic stem cell research. Therefore, many stem cell therapies are currently being tested using adult stem cells. Additionally, adult stem cells offer the potential for autologous stem cell donation, which may help to avoid issues of immune rejection in certain situations.

It is also known that upon injection into mice with compromised immune systems, undifferentiated embryonic stem cells elicit the formation of a benign tumor called a teratoma. This tumor formation causes scientists to doubt the therapeutic applicability of embryonic stem cells. It is not yet known whether similar results are observed with adult stem cells [17].

Advantages of Embryonic Stem Cells

The advantages of embryonic stem cells is that they offer one cell source for multiple indications. They provide the potential for a wider variety of applications than do adult stem cells. Additionally, they theoretically have the possibility of being immuno-privileged, due to their highly undifferentiated state. A privileged immune status would remove one of the main barriers of stem cell therapies, as self rejection is one stem cell therapys main complications [17]. The idea that embryonic stem cells can be immune privilaged, must be viewed skeptically, however, as this theory has not yet been proven.

Another advantage of embryonic stem cells, is that they appear to be immortal in vitro, while adult and differentiated stem cells cannot be cultured indefinitely in the lab. Once differentiated, these stem cells seem to die off like typical tissue cells.

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Adult vs. Embryonic Stem Cells - Brown University

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