Part I: Stem Cells - The Beginning

Stem cells are found in all multi-cellular beings and are probably among the most fascinating, mysterious, and important cells in your body. The key properties of a stem cell are its ability to either create far more specialized and differentiated cells than itself, or create exact clones of itself. Stem cells allow every organ and body system to replenish itself throughout a lifetime. Think of them as the mother of every other cell in your body.

Although there are many different kinds of stem cells, those that most concern multiple myeloma patients are called hematopoietic, which live in the bone marrow and are exclusively devoted to producing blood cells. Although all blood products are adversely affected by myeloma, the diseased cells we are dealing with are white blood cells, the blood cells that make up the extremely complex human immune system. Our immune system is like an army that works together to protect the body from infection and harmful cells that cause disease. All blood cells, then, begin as stem cells or “mother” cells in the bone marrow. One group of these self-renewing cells grow and divide into two daughter cells, a T-cell, the other a B-cell.