The Joy of Stem Cells


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Polio, leprosy, small pox and many other health obstacles have been overcome with the help of dedicated researchers, doctors and of course technological advancement over the last century. So, it is more exciting than surprising to know that science is thriving on the cellular level to find long lasting solutions to health problems. Currently, there are multiple research on using stem cells to repaire tissues of organs, correct spinal problems, and even heal blindness. As a brief overview, there are two main types of stem cells; embryonic stem cells and somatic stem cells. The former, as the name suggests, is found in embryos that are less than a week old. The somatic stem cells are adult stem cells and the national institute of health has defines it as follows:

An adult stem cell is thought to be an undifferentiated cell, found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ that can renew itself and can differentiate to yield some or all of the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ.

Since scientists discovered how to obtain embryonic stem cells from mice in 1981, they have gone on to replicate it in humans and have even been using bone marrow stem cells to make up for deficiency in the blood components such as replicating white blood cells and red blood cells for over 40 years. Research on adult stem cells continues in its fruition as in 2006, Japanese researchers were able to reprogram mature stem cells of mice to behave like embryonic stem cells. This is a huge gain since embryonic stem cells are more efficient in proliferating. Also, considering the many ethical arguments surrounding carrying experiments on potential babies, being able to recode mature stem cells to act like embryonic stem cells is a phenomenal achievement.

The main set back to the use of stem cells is that the immune systems of patients undergoing treatment tend to reject reprogrammed stem cells from other donors. So it is very exciting to know that early last year, researchers Tel Aviv were able to change skin cells from elderly men with heart failure to stem cells and successfully transposed them into rats. The stem cells then attached to the hearts of the rats to form new tissues, while overcoming the immune system barrier. More research needs to be done to understand the special forms of treatment that may be needed to treat human patients, according to the lead research Professor Lior Gepstein. However, the future is bright for stem cell research and potential health usefulness seems boundless.Thumbnail image for stemcelltree.jpg

Works Cited
http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/pages/basics4.aspx

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/bone-marrow-transplant

http://stemcells.nih.gov/research/scilit/highlights/Pages/highlights2007.aspx

http://www.shalomlife.com/health/19718/skin-cells-to-help-restoration-of-damaged-hearts-says-israeli-researchers/

2 Comments

Though its kind of scary how we can produce artificial organs and tissue with science, its also a huge revolution because now donors will not be a problem. I have always been interested in stem cell research because I feel like they are the solution to so many different problems. All the diseases listed above along with even some cancers could be fixed with this stem cell research. I don't really understand why stem cell research is so controversial, and wish that everyone will get on a consensus with each other soon.

Stem Cells and Cancer

I find the subject of Stem Cells so exciting! The fact that we can take cells and virtually manipulate them to be whatever organ/tissue we need is fascinating! Stem cells are definitely the science of the future, and if we're lucky, the near future!
I definitely also think that currently stem cells are at the forefront of the scientific world, as this article proves stating that the rate of growth for stem cell research is twice as much (7%) as the rate for average research (2.9%)!

Here's the article that says it:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204103716.htm

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