Umbilical stem cells, illustration

Umbilical stem cells, illustration

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Credit: MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Collection and use of umbilical stem cells. Computer illustration showing the harvesting of stem cells (centre) from the blood of an umbilical cord (top) and the areas of the body in which they can be used. Stem cells are known as multipotent because they are able to undergo differentiation to produce precursors of all the body's specialised cells, including (from upper right): bone marrow cells, nerve cells, blood cells, cardiac muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) and pancreas cells. Because of this they can be used in medical therapies to help treat various diseases caused by the malfunctioning of the existing cells.

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