Stem Cell Research Essay

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Stem cells are one of the wonders of the universe. These cells are the building blocks of our bodies, and cannot only self-replicate almost infinitely, certain stem cells can also become or produce almost any cell type, depending on the circumstances and environment. Although there are risks and controversies, the medical benefits of stem cells are unparalleled by any other medical technology available today, and the field of research is one of the most promising of our time. There are two classes of stem cells: embryonic and adult stem cells. An embryonic stem cell is a stem cell that is obtained from the human embryo, usually cloned and activated in a laboratory. They are capable of unprecedented reproduction, and can create all cells in the body. Adult stem cells are cells obtained from non-embryonic human sources, such as bone marrow. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells can only self-renew in a limited manner. There are three types of stem cells: totipotent, multipotent and pluripotent. Totipotent stem cells, which only occur as embryonic stem cells, are capable of unlimited self-renewal and the capacity to become any cell type in the body. Multipotent stem cells, which only occur as adult stem cells, can only self-renew in a limited manner, and only produces environment-specified cell lines. Pluripotent stem cells, which can occur as both cell classes, have a limited capacity for self-renewal, but the ability to produce a range of adult cell lines. To date, stem cell therapy (the use of stem cells for medicine) is limited. Re-growth of bone marrow and blood cell production is the height of current technology. Research is currently being undertaken into the abilities of stem cells in healing the body; particularl... ... middle of paper ... ...Stem Cells. [Online] Available at: http://www.explorestemcells.co.uk/whyarestemcellsimportant.html [Accessed 17 August 2013]. National Institute of Health - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002. Stem Cell Basics [Stem Cell Information]. [Online] Available at: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/Pages/Default.aspx [Accessed 17 August 2013]. Riordan, N., 2012. Stem Cell Therapy | The Stem Cell Institute. [Online] Available at: http://www.cellmedicine.com/ [Accessed 17 August 2013]. The Family Research Council, 7 April 2007. Adult Stem Cell vs Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ethics Video, YouTube [Online] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhzSrRR0QSU [Accessed 14 August 2013] Sam Harris, 2 December 2006. Sam Harris - Stem Cells and Morality, YouTube [Online Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUwnMX8ht3U [Accessed 14 August 2013]

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