Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963954 | Print ISBN: 9781412959087 | Online ISBN: 9781412963954| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
UMBILICAL CELLS ARE a type of adult stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. More specifically, umbilical cells refer to the hematopoietic stem cells, also known as undifferentiated blood cells, found in the umbilical cord. Because the umbilical stem cells are the precursor blood cells, they can develop into other cell types such as platelets, macrophages, and thymus cells, commonly known as T—cells. In light of this unique property, physicians use umbilical cord stem cells to treat patients who cannot generate normal blood cells as a result of genetic diseases such as leukemia. Because these cells exhibit characteristics similar to embryonic stem cells, some researchers state that umbilical cord cells could have the potential to differentiate into liver cells, neurons, heart muscles, or even cartilage—a property known as plasticity. Because the umbilical stem cells possess a degree of plasticity similar to that of embryonic stem cells, researchers have engaged in ...