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Definition of Blood Stem Cells
The parent cells from which all blood cells arise. Blood stem cells are pluripotent or undifferentiated, which means they have the ability to become any of the three types of blood cells (erythrocytes, leukocytes, or platelets).
Intricate biochemical interactions determine how the blood stem cell will differentiate (become a specific type of blood cell).
Blood stem cell transplantation, with harvesting through bone marrow donation and peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, has become a cornerstone of treatment for cancers involving the bone marrow and blood, notably leukemias and lymphomas. Researchers are exploring ways to use cells in other ways. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which are omnipotent (can differentiate into any kind of cell), blood stem cells have limited capability to differentiate only into the various types of blood cells.
However, the abundance and ease of collection of blood stem cells, which can be extracted from the blood, gives researchers hope that they may discover methods to manipulate blood stem cell differentiation to give rise to other kinds of cells.