David Prentice, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council, appeared before a Senate committee this fall to share some good news about stem cells. Around the world scientists are pouring into the field, because human embryonic stem cells have the power to become any cell in the body, offering the promise of dramatic scientific and medical advances. The work, however, requires destroying days-old human embryos, which critics say is tantamount to taking lives.
Adult stem cells, also called somatic stem cells, are undifferentiated cells that are found in many different tissues throughout the body of nearly all organisms, including humans. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which can become any cell in the body called pluripotentadult stem cells, which have been found in a wide range of tissues including skin, heart, brain, liver, and bone marrow are usually restricted to become any type of cell in the tissue or organ that they reside called multipotent. These adult stem cells, which exist in the tissue for decades, serve to replace cells that are lost in the tissue as needed, such as the growth of new skin every day in humans.
Despite the enormous therapeutic potential for stem cells to treat a vast array of serious diseases there are still concerns about potentially dangerous results. Scientists are excited about the possibilities of saving lives and reducing morbidity from disease but at the same time, there are fears regarding unexpected results and effects from stem cell usage. With recent technologies having triggered a major increase in stem cell treatments, the concept of stem cell therapies is no longer such a foreign one.
Taking into Account all of the Relevant Benefits and Harms. Embryos Created for Research Purposes? The discovery, isolation, and culturing of human embryonic stem cells has been described as one of the most significant breakthroughs in biomedicine of the century.
The field of stem cell research has been developing during the last decade and is now one of the fastest growing areas of biotechnology. Stem cells can be harvested from an established tissue adult stem cell or from the blood of the umbilical cord and these sources, for many, create no specific ethical dilemma. Stem cells can also be obtained from the embryo embryonic stem cells.
Imagine a world in which Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, arthritis, blindness, and blood disorders are a thing of the past. Unique cells known as stem cells could hold the key. Like magic seeds, they respond to built-in genetic instructions to develop into bone cells, muscle cells, brain cells or any other type of cell as the growing body takes form.
Stem cells are self-renewing, unspecialised cells that can give rise to multiple cell types of all tissues of the body. They can be derived from the embryo, foetus and adult. The ability of stem cells to divide but also to differentiate to specialised cell types like nerve and muscle, have made them candidates on which to base therapies for diseases and disorders for which no, or only partially effective, therapies are available.
Most cells in the body are differentiated cells. These cells can only serve a specific purpose in a particular organ. For example, red blood cells are specifically designed to carry oxygen through the blood.
While some researchers still claim that embryonic stem cells ESCs offer the best hope for treating many debilitating diseases, there is now a great deal of evidence contrary to that theory. Use of stem cells obtained by destroying human embryos is not only unethical but presents many practical obstacles as well. University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson said obstacles include learning how to grow the cells into all types of organs and tissue and then making sure cancer and other defects are not introduced during the transplantation.