28 October 2011
Embryonic Stem Cell Research The history of stem cell research had an embryonic beginning in the mid 1800’s with the discovery that some cells could generate other cells. An embryo is an organism in the early stages of development that cannot survive on its own because it lacks tissues, organs, and body structure. Today, stem cell research is a focus of a controversy over the use of embryonic stem cells for research. This is why we have chosen this topic to provide information on both sides of the controversy along with the history behind the stem cell research. There are several different opinions on stem cell research, but if people were aware of more facts behind it, they may change their opinions.
In the early 1900's the first real stem cells were discovered when it was found that some cells generate blood cells. They were found to have three general properties: they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods, they are unspecialized, and they can give rise to specialized cell types. This is unique because other cells like muscle, blood, and nerve cells are unable to normally replicate themselves. The history of stem cell research includes work with both animal and stem cells. Stem cells are classified into three broad categories based on their abilities: totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent. Totipotent stem cells are found only in early embryos. Pluripotent stem cells exist in the inner mass of the blastocyst, a small ball that cells have divided to form after the third day of conception. Multipotent stem cells are derived from fetal tissue, cord blood, and adult stem cells. There are also three main sources in which stem cells are obtained: adult cells, cord cells, and embryonic cells. Adult cells can be extracted from bone marrow, a rich source of stem cells, or from the peripheral system.
Human stem cells can be used to benefit research in many ways. Studies of human embryonic stem cells will yield information about complex events that occur during human development. A main goal of this is to discover how undifferentiated (a cell that has not yet developed into a specialized cell type) stem cells become the differentiated cells that become tissues and organs. Turning genes on and off are part of this process. There are some serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects that are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation. If there is a greater understanding on how these diseases come to be, there may be suggestions for new strategies of therapy.
Human stem cells can also be used to test the safety on differentiated cells generated from the human pluripotent cell lines. There are other sets of lines that are also used this way, like cancer lines. They are used to screen anti-tumor drugs. Conditions must be identical when comparing different drugs to screen them effectively, so scientists will have to be able to precisely control the differentiation of stem cells into the specific cell type in which they will be tested.
The main positive aspect of stem cell research is that stem cells offer promise and hope for medical advancements due to their ability to grow into almost every kind of cell.For example, damaged neural cells in the brain and spinal corn can be replaced by stem cells. Also, in the treatment of cancer, cells destroyed by radiation or chemotherapy are able to be replaced with new, healthy, adaptive stem cells. This can include parts of the brain, liver, heart, lungs, or whichever place is desired. No matter what kind of injury or disease someone has, dead cells of nearly any kind can be replaced because of the incredible flexibility of the stem cells and the ability to regenerate cells. Billions of dollars are being put into this new field as an amazing result. Embryonic stem cell research has some remarkable cures as well. It can be used for curing several diseases such as cancer, tumors, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes,…