Stem cell research has become very popular recently because they can help us understand how diseases arise, generate healthy cells to replace cells affected by disease, and also test the safety of new drugs. Stem cells could become vital for the future of medicine.
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the ability to grow into many different cell types. There are two types of stem cells in humans: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells come from 3 to 5 day old embryos (blastocysts) and can differentiate to form all the specialized cells in our body. It is often at the center of stem cell research. An adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell that resides among the differentiated cells of a tissue or organ. They have the ability to renew themselves and differentiate into particular types, where their main role is to maintain and repair the tissues in which they reside. Bone marrow is a very good source of adult stem cells, although they are often low in number.
In 1998, two scientists succeeded in cultivating human embryonic stem cells, in the hope that they could be encouraged to grow into any type of cell needed in the body, in what was a breakthrough for research. on stem cells.
In 2010, the first trials testing the safety of injecting nerve cells derived from embryonic stem cells into the spinal cord of paralyzed human patients were carried out. Scientists hoped stem cells could help paralyzed people walk again.
In 2014, doctors transplanted embryonic stem cells into the yeses of people who had been blinded by macular degeneration – an eye condition in which cells in the middle of the retina die or are damaged, making it difficult to clear view of details. All patients found that they could see better. Larger trials are now taking place.
However, there are concerns about stem cell research, with some people believing it is unethical to kill embryos for their cells, which could kill a life. Others believe that because the embryo cannot give permission, the use of embryonic stem cells is a violation of one’s human rights.
Additionally, there is a risk that adult stem cells may become infected with viruses or pathogens and may transmit infections to patients. It could also trigger an immune response or be rejected by the human body.
The future of stem cell research may lie in therapeutic cloning, an area with great potential that involves using cells from an adult to produce a cloned early embryo of themselves. This would provide a source of perfectly matched embryonic stem cells. In theory, these could be used for medical treatments, such as growing new organs for the original donor. The new organs would not be rejected by the body because they were made from the body’s own cells and have the same genes.
After years of relatively slow progress, hopes are once again high that stem cells will change the future of medicine.