Sunday, December 23, 2007

Stem Cells

About four years ago, the “Ultimate” stem cell was discovered. The stem cell, which was found in adults, can turn into any tissue in the body. The adult stem cell could possibly spell the end of embryonic cells. According to Ihor Lemischka of Princeton University, “They (adult stem cells) can differentiate into pretty much anything that an embryonic stem cell can differentiate into.”

The cells were found in the bone marrow of adults by Catherine Verfaillie at the University of Minnesota. The cells known as MAPCs (Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cells) have been found in the skin and muscle as well as in mice. The question still remained at the time of publication: Are these adult stem cells as versatile as embryonic stem cells?

If given under the right conditions, MAPCs can turn into various tissue types such as muscle, cartilage, liver and brain cells among others. When Verfaillie conducted an experiment which involved MAPCs being placed into new born mice, the results turned up nicely showing that one single MAPC can give supply to all the body’s tissues. In no way are the embryonic cells identical to MAPC cells, although they do share a lot of properties. Embryonic cells have been known to form cancerous loads if you insert them into adults, but as far as MAPC’s are concerned this hasn’t been of any danger.

Questions have been raised concerning the functionality of the MAPC as well as if it can be truly considered ‘a cell’. None-the-less, it is a decisive step for Stem Cell Research.

Stem Cells will impact the way society functions in the years too come. Already there are numerous pro-stem cell research movements and the potential developments and breakthroughs stem cells can have are tremendous. If stem cell research continues, former detrimental illnesses such as cancer, blindness and diabetes, could soon go away quicker than it had started. The focus from embryonic stem cells to adult stem cells is becoming more eminent and the number of scientists constructing stem cell research studies amplifies everyday. With the expected abundance of stem cells in the coming years (if research is funded and sanctioned by the government), the cost of treatment shouldn’t be that high. What does this mean? It means that people won’t have to fight illness or even worry about having a prolonged medical condition. Within the next twenty, I predict that stem cells will literally take over the medical field of study.

The following words describe my opinion on the stem cell debate: Embryonic stem cells = bad, adult stem cells = good. I think that using embryonic stem cells is a destruction of human life, considering that the embryonic stem cells come from a dead baby, most likely as a result of an abortion, something that I am also against. I have no problems with adult stem cells because they are coming from living beings. As long as no harm is done to the adults of whom the stem cells are coming from, it is all well and good. So if I was asked to support embryonic stem cell research, I would instantaneously state my dislike.

1 comment:

  1. This is fascinating. Do you think it will cause less controversy, and bring more support to stem cell research, especially to religious groups?


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