Stem Cells: Characterization and Biomedical Importance Essay examples

Stem Cells: Characterization and Biomedical Importance Essay examples

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Over the past decade, stem cell biology has been an area that has caused much controversy. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into many different types of cells and therefore, advocates of stem cell research argue that the cells have various medical applications. On the other hand, opponents of stem cell research denounce the use of human embryos for research purposes, claiming that the embryos represent human lives and that experimentation with them and subsequent annihilation of them is the same as killing a living human being. Nevertheless, the potential uses for stem cells are endless and stem cells have the ability to completely change modern medical practices.

Human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) are characterized by several fundamental attributes. As pluripotent cells, the embryonic stem cells live in an undifferentiated state and have the ability to differentiate into numerous cell types. Taken from the inner cell mass region in the embryo, human embryonic stem cells are selected from the early human blastocyst five days after fertilization. The human embryonic stem cells also have a normal karyotype and are able to survive and divide in vitro indefinitely under suitable culture conditions, allowing them to be a renewable resource for scientists to use in the laboratory environment. Furthermore, human embryonic stem cells can be frozen and unthawed successfully for storage purposes, and can differentiate into a variety of cell types both in vitro and in vivo. The human embryonic stem cells first differentiate to form the three major germ layers--ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm, and then further differentiates to form all of the major cell types in a complete human organism (Brivanlou et al. 2003).

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...f animal studies that clinical trials require for drug development and testing...Stem cells could be used to generate a long list of cells and tissues that could be used for transplantation (Lewis 2001)."

In the future, embryonic stem cells should be used for biomedical purposes. There are many possible improvements that can be made in the medical field due to the influence of embryonic stem cells. Due to their pluripotent nature, the human embryonic stem cells hold the key to solving many of the current issues in medicine and will also be able to help developmental biologists gain a better understanding of human growth and development. Stem cells can be used to create new tissues, organs, gene expressions and treatments in human patients. With or without federal aid, embryonic stem cell research should continue its trend toward making biomedical contributions.

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