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Top 5 Facts: Stem cells

Stem_cell

Stem_cell

1. All new – Thanks to stem cells, you get a whole new skin approximately every four weeks, a new gut lining every few days and a staggering 2 million new red blood cells every second.

2. Pearly whites – Researchers discovered stem cells in the dental pulp of human teeth (DPSCs) in 2000. As time goes on, we continue to find them lurking in new parts of the body.

3. Skin on demand – Doctors have used skin stem cells to grow entire sheets of epidermis in the lab, only with no hairs or sweat glands. This skin can be used as grafts for patients with severe burns.

4. Stem cell bombshell – Carbon-14 produced by Cold War nuclear bomb testing has enabled researchers to determine that the heart can regenerate itself (very slowly) thanks to stem cells.

5. Lifesavers – In the last 20 years, more than 20,000 patients have received umbilical cord blood transplants – for the most part treating leukaemia and blood disorders in children.