Stem cells, undifferentiated cells that are able to differentiate into more than one cell type, are of great scientific interest today.
Stem cells can divide to produce differentiated descendents, yet also retain the ability to divide to maintain the stem cell population. The most versatile stem cells—those that have the ability to give rise to all tissues of the body—are known as pluripotent stem cells.
Other stem cells appear to be more specialized; for example, neural stem cells have been shown to form blood cells when transplanted into bone marrow, and bone marrow stem cells can differentiate into muscle cells. Also, some blood stem cells can develop into platelets, white blood cells, or red blood cells. These more specialized stem cells are called multipotent.