//     March 7, 2022

Are all cells made equal? (by Marcos Valadares)

In the general public, there is a sense that there only exist 2 general cell types: regular cells and stem cells. This is somewhat correct but it doesn’t capture the true complexity of what actually exist. By regular cells we generally mean “fully differentiated cells” and this refers to cells that have reached their end stage and will no longer give rise to any other cell type. Eventually, this cell will senesce and die. As for stem cells, there are many ways we could categorize them, nevertheless, for simplicity sake, we will say we can have 3 categories of stem cells differing in their level of potency: Totipotent, Pluripotent and Multipotent.

Ref of image: https://www.dreamstime.com/totipotent-cells-vector-illustration-multi-uni-pluripotent-diagram-multipotent-unipotent-development-sperm-oocyte-morula-image127237986

Totipotency is a very peculiar level of stemness and only found in very early-stage, right after sperm fertilizes the egg turning into a zygote and remaining through the first mitosis after that. This stage is very unique because a totipotent cell is actually capable of giving rise to entire human beings including embryonic annexes such as the placenta. This is exactly how identical twins come into being. Cells that are totipotent in nature get separated somehow in the uterus and develop independently of one another. Cool, right?

Second stage is the pluripotent stage. At this stage cells from the zygote have divided more and began a process in which they lose part of their capacity to differentiate into any cell type and give rise to different types of stem cells with a lesser differentiation potential (this process is called differentiation). Pluripotent cells are present in the blastocyst (a development stage) and these cells have the potential to give rise to all the cell types in the body, except the embryonic annexes. So Pluripotent stem cells are derived from Totipotent Stem Cells that differentiated and now have lost some of their stemness. Both Pluripotent and Totipotent have only been found in embryo stages and not in the fully developed individual. Embryonic Stem Cells and induced pluripotent stem cells are both types of pluripotent stem cells that can be cultivated in vitro.

Finally, Multipotent Stem Cells are cells that can give rise to other cell types but with limited potential (maybe two or three cell types). These cells are found in newborn and adult tissues and serve as a reservoir of cells or replace damaged or aged tissue.

Currently there has been a surge on the number of clinical trials using pluripotent stem cells as a source for obtaining highly pure and differentiated progeny because, if successfully cultivated and differentiated, pluripotent stem cells can become a platform for the development of future therapies.

LizarBio works exactly to bring this reality to patients and help cure incurable diseases by industrially producing these cells in the lab and making them available to patients.

Stick around for more info in the future.