Key Difference – Umbilical Cord Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells
Stem cells are the undifferentiated immature cells of multicellular organisms. They are capable of dividing and differentiating into specific cells or tissues. Stem cells can be differentiated from other cell types due to several reasons such as renewing themselves through cell division, specializing into tissues or organs to perform specific functions, etc. These characteristics of stem cells serve as important tools in tissue engineering and disease therapeutics. They have biotechnological potential as well. Umbilical cord stem cells and embryonic stem cells are two type of stem cells used in disease therapeutic and biotechnology. Umbilical cord stem cells are the undifferentiated cells seen in blood and tissues of the umbilical cord. Embryonic stem cells are the undifferentiated cells in the five to eight days old in vitro fertilized embryo. The key difference between umbilical cord stem cells and embryonic stem cells is that umbilical cord stem cells are multipotent whereas embryogenic stem cells are pluripotent.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
3. What are Embryonic Stem Cells
4. Side by Side Comparison – Umbilical Cord Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells
What are Umbilical Cord Stem Cells?
The umbilical cord is the flexible cord-like structure which connects human fetus to the placenta of the mother. During the pregnancy period, nutrient rich oxygenated blood transfers from the placenta to the baby and nutrient depleted deoxygenated blood transfer from the baby to the placenta via the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is composed of tissues and blood. Both tissue and blood contain undifferentiated cells called cord tissue stem cells and cord blood stem cells, respectively. They are the two main types of umbilical cord stem cells. Umbilical stem cells are powerful cells with the remarkable ability to regenerate or renew tissues. Hence, they are popular as therapeutic cells (personal repair kit) for more than 80 known diseases in human.
Umbilical cord stem cells are considered to be therapeutically useful for bone marrow related diseases and inborn errors of metabolism. One major application of these stem cells is the tissue engineering. Umbilical cord stem cells have extremely high cell division capability and are used to repair and renew damaged tissues.
Umbilical cord stem cell therapy is applied for various diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, anaemia, sickle cell anaemia, beta thalassemia, severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) condition, red cell aplasia, multiple myeloma, plasma cell leukemia, blood proliferated disorders, hurler syndrome, hunter syndrome, ALD, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, Osteopetrosis, tumors including neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma and medulloblastoma, etc.
Umbilical cord stem cells can be preserved through cord blood banking. Due to their remarkable therapeutic ability and healing power, parents tend to preserve their babies umbilical cord stem cells for later use.
What are Embryonic Stem Cells?
Embryonic stem cells are the undifferentiated cells of the human embryo. These stem cells are able to divide rapidly and differentiated into more than 200 cell types in the adult human. Hence they are known as pluripotent cells. Embryonic stem cells grow primarily into three primary germ layers known as ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm, which are later differentiated into different human body cell types.
Embryonic stem cells, like umbilical cord stem cells, are used to treat diseases. However, embryonic stem cells that are derived only from the in vitro fertilized embryo are used for that purpose due to ethical issues related to the embryo. This process is restricted only to the embryos developed in vitro and especially not to the stem cells derived from the embryo developed in a woman’s body. Stem cells taken from a few day – old embryo are maintained in laboratories as embryonic stem cell lines. If proper conditions are provided, it is possible to maintain undifferentiated stem cells in the labs.
In general, it is clear that embryonic stem cells are the cells which form all cell types of the body including muscle, nerve, liver and many other cells. If scientists are able to direct the laboratory maintained embryonic stem cell differentiation effectively, they can use cells to treat certain diseases such as diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss, etc.
What is the difference between Umbilical Cord Stem Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells?
Umbilical Cord Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells
|Umbilical cord stem cells are the undifferentiated cells found in the umbilical cord blood and tissue.||Embryonic stem cells are the undifferentiated cells isolated from in vitro fertilized egg cell which was developed to 5 to 8 days old embryo.|
|Umbilical cord stem cells are multipotent; meaning that they can differentiate into a small number of different cell types.||Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent; meaning that they can differentiate into more than 200 specialized cell types in the adult body.|
|They can be used to treat diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and several inherited blood disorders.||If scientists are able to effectively direct the differentiation process of embryonic stem cells, they can use these cells to treat diseases such as diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, heart disease, vision and hearing loss, etc.|
Summary – Umbilical Cord Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells
Umbilical cord stem cells and embryonic stem cells are two types of important stem cells. Umbilical cord stem cells include both umbilical cord tissue and blood stem cells which are undifferentiated cells. They can be differentiated into several types hence they are multipotent. Embryonic stem cells are the undifferentiated cells isolated from five to eight days old embryo developed by in vitro fertilization. They are pluripotent and can be specialized into many cell types in the human. This is the difference between umbilical cord stem cells and embryonic stem cells.
1. “Stem cell information.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 05 May 2017
2. Weiss, Mark L., and Deryl L. Troyer. “Stem Cells in the Umbilical Cord.” Stem cell reviews. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2006. Web. 06 May 2017
1. “Gray38” By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (See “Book” section below)Bartleby.com: Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 38 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Stem cells diagram” By Mike Jones – From English Wikipedia. by Mike Jones for Wikipedia. (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia