• Question: With unipotent stem cells being so useful, why is there any point of us using other types of stem cells?

    Asked by calvinjohnson2 to Ryan on 11 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Ryan Beveridge

      Ryan Beveridge answered on 11 Jun 2019:

      Different types of stem cells have different properties. A unipotent stem cell can only become a narrow subset of cells.
      This can be an advantage if you want to use them for a narrow purpose, like for skin, which only has a limited number of cell types. Unipotent stem cells are really useful for treating burns or more recently in gene therapy for patients with severe skin conditions.
      However if you are working with a more complex system, like blood, where a single stem cell has the potential to make a really wide array of cells then a unipotent cell is not so useful. This is why Hematopoietic stem cells are studied so rigorously, if a patient has a mutation preventing normal blood production the multipotent stem cells in the bone marrow can, in theory, be corrected using gene therapy and allow the patient to have a pool of their own cells able to produce all of the different blood cells.
      There are lots of types of stem cells and they will all have a purpose which is best suited to them, it is an exciting area to look into!