Summary
A progenitor cell is a biological cell that can differentiate into a specific cell type. Stem cells and progenitor cells have this ability in common. However, stem cells are less specified than progenitor cells. Progenitor cells can only differentiate into their "target" cell type. The most important difference between stem cells and progenitor cells is that stem cells can replicate indefinitely, whereas progenitor cells can divide only a limited number of times. Controversy about the exact definition remains and the concept is still evolving. The terms "progenitor cell" and "stem cell" are sometimes equated. Most progenitors are identified as oligopotent. In this point of view, they can compare to adult stem cells, but progenitors are said to be in a further stage of cell differentiation. They are "midway" between stem cells and fully differentiated cells. The kind of potency they have depends on the type of their "parent" stem cell and also on their niche. Some research found that progenitor cells were mobile and that these progenitor cells could move through the body and migrate towards the tissue where they are needed. Many properties are shared by adult stem cells and progenitor cells. Progenitor cells have become a hub for research on a few different fronts. Current research on progenitor cells focuses on two different applications: regenerative medicine and cancer biology. Research on regenerative medicine has focused on progenitor cells, and stem cells, because their cellular senescence contributes largely to the process of aging. Research on cancer biology focuses on the impact of progenitor cells on cancer responses, and the way that these cells tie into the immune response. The natural aging of cells, called their cellular senescence, is one of the main contributors to aging on an organismal level. There are a few different ideas to the cause behind why aging happens on a cellular level. Telomere length has been shown to positively correlate to longevity.
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