Adult and Embryonic Stem Cells Hold Great Promise in Medicine

Adult and Embryonic Stem Cells Hold Great Promise in Medicine

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Stem cells are versatile cells that have great promise in medicine. There are two main types of stem cells: adult and embryonic stem cells. For many years, embryonic stem cells were considered the most useful for research and advancements in medical therapies. Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can be prompted to become any tissue in the body. That is why they are considered so important, however, the pluripotence of the embryonic stem cell can also be their downfall. Since these cells can become anything, this also means they can mutate into tumors and other undesirable things. The second type, which are adult stem cells, are more differentiated. In most cases, a stem cell from a specific organ will only become a cell of that organ, however, there are some types of adult stem cells that a more undifferentiated like mesenchymal stem cells which are taken from the patient’s own bone marrow. Mesenchymal stem cells can be used to heal intervertebral disks, replace bone and other tissues. One of the most important benefits of adult stem cells is that there is no chance of rejection or graft vs. host disease if the specimen is taken from the patient’s own body.
There are many people who oppose the use of human embryonic stem cells in research and the main reasons are because they liken it to abortion and their political affiliation. Human embryonic stem cells are harvested from a four to five day old fertilized egg called a blastocyst. After the stem cells are removed, the blastocyst can no longer develop into an embryo, thus resulting in the destruction of the blastocyst. Because of this, many people feel this is the same as abortion; the destruction of human life. Another opposing view is the political affiliation that people identify with. While the majority of liberals have no problem with human embryonic stem cell research, many conservatives do. Conservatives may feel this way because of their political role or religious preferences. The destruction of human life factor may also play a role in this viewpoint. While human embryonic stem cell research is continuously shrouded in controversy, research involving adult stem cells remains a neutral field. Adult stem cell research is more appealing to the opposition because no embryos are utilized and thus is not involved in the destruction of human life.
In contrast, there are many people who are intrigued and support the growing field of stem cell research.

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Many supporters recognize that the benefits produced from this science could mean the difference between living life and just simply existing for a vast amount of people. Not only is this research being conducted to understand stem cells more thoroughly, it is increasing the technology out there for various forms of degenerative afflictions. Supporters of stem cell research are more concerned with how the stem cells are procured and the medical advances that could be discovered from continuing this research.
Those in support of human embryonic stem cell research generally understand that the embryos utilized in this research are procured from In Vitro Fertilization clinics. These are embryos that have been slotted for disposal for one reason or another and are to be destroyed unless a research lab picks them up. Regardless if the embryo is for research or not, it would end up being destroyed. Gathering specimens in this manner is the only legal way to conduct research on human embryonic stem cells. Human embryonic stem cells can only be obtained from the clump of cells that forms inside the hollow of a blastocyst. After an egg is fertilized, it begins to divide rapidly, and at days four through five it is a blastocyst. This type of stem cell cannot be harvested from an abortion because by that time, all of those cells have differentiated and are no longer pluripotent.
Supporters of stem cell research believe that the benefits far outweigh the cons. The advances in medicine that would be available could change millions of lives. Think about how common bone marrow transplants are now, they weren’t always so readily available. Mesenchymal stem cells are derived from bone marrow, so that means that recipients of bone marrow transplants are actually receiving a fresh batch of adult stem cells to rebuild their immune system.
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