Stem cells cultivated without using human or animal cells

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Previously, stem cells have been cultivated using animal proteins or by growing them from other human cells. Both methods come with associated problems. But, according to a study published in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, researchers have now identified a new method for cultivating stem cells.

Stem cells are a kind of cell that are able to divide or self-renew indefinitely. This allows the stem cell to generate into a range of different cell types for the organ that they originate from, or they may even be able to regenerate the whole organ.

Because of this, scientists are interested in using stem cells in a range of medical treatments, to replenish damaged tissue in the brain or skin, or as a treatment for diseases of the blood.

In adults, these stem cells have been found in tissues such as the brain, bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, skin and liver. Adult stem cells only become "activated" and start dividing and generating new cells when their host tissue becomes damaged by disease or injury.

A more potent kind of stem cell is found in human embryos - this type has the unique ability to grow into any kind of cell in the human body. But using these cells in scientific research is controversial - and illegal in some countries - as harvesting them requires the destruction of a fertilized human egg (a "blastocyst") that has not had the chance to develop into a baby.

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Stem cells cultivated without using human or animal cells

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