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The Controversy Associated With Stem Cell Usage

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found among differentiated cells in tissues or organs. The adult stem cell can renew itself and can differentiate to yield some or all of the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ. Adult stem cells function in living organisms to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. Stem cells can be divided into three categories:

  1. Embryonic stem cells: grown in the laboratory from cells found in the early embryo
  2. Induced pluripotent stem cells, or reprogrammed stem cells are similar to embryonic stem cells but made from adult specialized cells using a laboratory technique
  3. Tissue stem cells: found in our bodies all our lives.

In 1968, the first successful bone marrow transplant was carried out by doctors. Bone marrow contains somatic stem cells that produce all of the different cell types that make up our blood. It is routinely transplanted to treat many blood and bone marrow diseases, blood cancers, and immune disorders. Peripheral blood stem cells from the blood stream and umbilical cord stem cells have also been used to treat some blood-based diseases. In stem cell therapy cells are introduced into a damaged tissue to treat the illness or disorder. Stem cell therapy may have the potential to change the way that human diseases are treated in the long run and reduce the suffering of a multitude of people worldwide.

These researchers believe that there is a lot of potential to replace damaged or diseased tissues in the body without getting rejections. Stem cells have the ability to self-renew and create a further generation of cells that multiply. There are a number of stem cell therapies in existence but the vast majority of them are still in the experimental stages. These treatments are generally costly with the exception of a bone marrow transplant. It is possible however that scientists may one day develop technologies from embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells to cure multiple diseases that plague humankind including type I diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac failure and neurological disorders.

However, on the flip side there are opponents of stem cell therapy that cite moral and ethical reasons as to why stem cell therapy should not be employed. When scientists learned how to remove stem cells from human embryos in 1998, controversy as well as excitement ensued. The excitement was for the potential these cells may have in revolutionizing treatment of human disease. The controversy centered on the moral implications of destroying human embryos. Debates raged between political leaders and scientists over how to regulate and fund research involving human embryonic stem cells. Governments around the globe have passed legislation to regulate stem cell research.

In the United States, laws have been enacted prohibiting the creation of embryos for research purposes. Scientists therefore receive embryos from fertility clinics. Many people agree that this practice is appropriate yet disagreements do surface. As political parties debate whether or not to fund stem cell research, the federal government allocates billions of dollars each year to biomedical research. Legislators face the unique challenge of encouraging advances in science and medicine while preserving a respect for life. However, the detractors might put it over 90% of the work involving stem cells is not controversial and this includes the therapies that are legitimately administered every day as well as most of the research work being done in many parts of the world.

There few areas in the stem cell field that have become controversial are:

  • Embryonic stem cells that are derived from a small group of cells in a five day embryo called the inner cell mass that under normal circumstances would go on to form an entire living organism;
  • Reproductive cloning in which a clone or copy of an organism is produced from a single cell removed from that organism. Reproductive cloning is banned for humans
  • Stem cell tourism where patients pay large amounts for unproven stem cells therapies contravening ethical norms and safety standards.

Any therapy or treatment carries it’s own pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages. Some of the Pros and cons of stem cell therapy are as follows.

Potential Advantages Of Stem Cell Therapy

  • Medical benefits in the fields of therapeutic cloning and regenerative medicine.
  • Potential for discovering treatments and cures to a variety of diseases including Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, spinal cord injuries, diabetes and many more.
  • Limbs and organs grown in a lab from stem cells could be used in transplants.
  • Scientists can learn about human growth and cell development.
  • Scientists and doctors may test millions of potential drugs and medicine without using animals or human test subjects. A process of simulating the effect of the drug on a specific population of cells could be used to determine if the drug had any advantages or issues.
  • Stem cell research enables us to study the developmental stages which cannot be studied directly in an embryo. This research may have major clinical consequences in treatment of birth defects, pregnancy-loss and infertility. A comprehensive understanding of normal embryonic development may help in preventing or treating abnormal human development.
  • A patient's own stem cells can potentially be used to treat a patient. The risks involved would be reduced because bodies do not reject their own cells.
  • Embryonic stem cells can develop into any cell types of the body and may offer a more versatile avenue of treatment than adult stem cells.

Potential Disadvantages Of Stem Cell Therapy

  • Embryonic stem cells research involves the destruction of blastocysts formed from laboratory-fertilized human eggs to produce stem cells. Some people believe that life begins at conception and the blastocyst is a human life, therefore to destroy it is immoral and unethical.
  • The long-term effects of such an interference with nature are unknown and could manifest in severe consequences.
  • Embryonic stem cell research is still in the experimental stages and may not be the solution for all ailments.
  • Stem cell therapy when used on heart disease patients made their coronary arteries narrower.
  • Adult stem cells are mostly pre-specialized, for instance, blood stem cells make only blood, and neural stem cells make only brain cells.
  • Stem cells are generally derived from embryos that are not a patient's own and the patient's body can reject them.

In order to discover more about stem cell research and the treatments being offered contact Baja Stem Cells today.

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