1.Introduction to Stem Cells
A)Stems cells have are those that have 3 general properties: they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods, are unspecialized, and can regenerate into other specialized cells B)Essentially cells that have not yet decided what type of adult cell they will become C)One stem cell has the ability to self-renew and make 2 new stem cells D)This characteristic allows scientists to manipulate the properties of the cells to coax them into becoming whatever specific adult cells are needed
2.Types of Stem Cells
A)There are 2 broad types of stem cells: Adult stem cells, and the most controversial type, Embryonic stem cells B)One of the most obvious differences in these types is where they come from C)Adult stem cells come from tissue like blood, bone marrow, or adipose (fat) D)Embryonic cells come from blastocytes in developing embryos, or unborn offspring between the ages of 5 days to a month.
E)Another difference is that embryonic stem cells have the ability to become any cell of the body.
Adult stem cells are thought to be limited to differentiating into different cell types of their tissue of origin. F)This means that adult cells taken from blood tissue can only generate other blood tissue cells.
A)Bone marrow stem cells are extracted by needle and are taken from the iliac crest (hip bone). Fat stem cells are extracted by needle from a source of the body where there is a large amount of fat (hips, bottom, and thighs).
B)Blood stem cells are taken directly from the blood stream by two needles. One needle takes out the blood and leads directly to a centrifuge, which separates the stem cells from the other blood components. The rest of the blood is passed through a warmer, where it then reenters the bloodstream via the second needle.
4.Potential Uses of Stem Cells
A)Many scientists believe that the future of treating complex diseases lies
in stem cell research. B)Advances in research may reveal information about how diseases suddenly arise and new treatments for them.
C)Human stem cells may also be used to regenerate body parts and organs, such as limbs, breasts, kidneys, hearts, livers etc. Essentially they can grow these parts in Petri dishes, and later attach them to persons in need. D)This technique can reverse the shortage of donated body parts that we have in the US, and eliminate the use of waiting lists so that people don’t die in hopes of a life-saving body part. E)Stem cells can also be programmed to eliminate cancer cells in the body.
Unlike chemotherapy which uses harsh radiation, these cells will not harm the rest of the body’s essential tissues. It also will not have the adverse effects of chemo, like hair loss and extreme nausea. F)In all, scientists are studying stem cells in hopes of curing diseases and disorders like cancer, diabetes, blindness, hearing loss, heart conditions, baldness, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, and birth defects.
A)The ethical debate centers mainly on the extraction and use of embryonic stem cells. Pro-lifers, and those who believe that life begins at contraception, argue that taking cells from unborn babies is essentially killing them. B) Scientists argue back that the embryo is not yet a baby, but is merely a sack of cells that does not have the characteristics of life.
C)Another question raised is if creating body parts for human use is what some would describe as “playing God”. D)Also, the threat of cloning humans in the future looms. While cloning is considered illegal in the United States, it cannot stop those in other countries from experimenting with cloning. It could become a threat to national security if this technology got into the wrong hands.
6.Future of Stem Cell Research
A)In conclusion, stem cell research holds the answers too many of the questions that we are looking for regarding the human body. B)New techniques will be developed that will aid in not only understanding why diseases occur, but how to cure them for good. C) With the proper funding and access granted to stem cell studies, we can look forward to the eradication of the chronic, life threatening diseases, and a healthier future for all.