Stem cells are a special group of cells found in all multicellular organisms. What makes them unique and different from other cells is the fact that they are unspecialized and have the potential to differentiate into diverse cell types while still maintaining the ability to replenish themselves. Generally, these cells are divided into 2 broad categories – the embryonic stem cells that are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and the adult stem cells that are harvested from the bone marrow, umbilical cord blood or the adipose tissue of an adult.
How far are we willing to go to save a life? Regenerative medicine is a newer innovation that is highly controversial. This controversy is typically brought on by religious groups with the concern of whether or not the practice is moral. The use of regenerative medicine has the potential to treat previously incurable diseases and disorders. Despite the moral complications, regenerative medicine should become regular practice as it has the potential to treat diseases at the source and improve the quality of life for millions of people.
Imagine a future where Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are looked at in the same regard as polio. Imagine a different and truly personal kind of medicine that avoids the use of potentially risky and invasive procedures. Regenerative medicine has the promise to be just that. Using injection therapy which involve the injection of stem cells which undergo differentiation that will repair damaged tissues. This process happens when one parent (stem) cell divides into two daughter cells. One of the two daughter cell will remain a stem cell, the other daughter cell will specialize into a specific type of tissue cell.
Many of us have all heard the saying that a “lizard can lose its tail,” and bizarrely enough it will grow back. This was always considered impossible for humans, an idea belonging in the realm of science fiction, but now the regeneration of tissue is an extremely realistic possibility. Despite some opinions, this process does not happen naturally, or take place as cinematically as one might imagine. Over the past decade, there have been major advances in regenerative medicine, commonly known as stem cell research. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells within the body that have the capability to specialize into any tissue. They are most commonly found in cord blood, bone marrow, organ donations, placenta, and embryos . Stem cells are seen by some as a new miracle treatment, encouraging many countries to invest in their research.
"Embryonic stem cells are special because they are the only cells that can make all parts of the body,” said Douglas Melton, in an interactive videoconference available at athome.harvard.edu. The conference was hosted in New York and broadcasted to Cambridge, Washington D.C., and Naples, Florida on March 2, 2004. "Embryonic stem cells can do everything. So if you want to work on replenishing tissues, that’s where you go."
The reason stem cells are such a big breakthrough in medical technology is that they are cells that have the remarkable ability to grow into just about any cell in the body (Introduction n. pag). In fact, stem cells that remain in the human body after birth “serve as a sort of internal repair system,” in many tissues and organs (Basics n. pag). This is an extremely efficient way of healing since stem cells can become
Researchers successfully attained embryonic stem cells from the embryos of mice in 1981, which led to the discovery of this process in human beings in 1998 (National Institutes of Health, 2001). Embryonic stem cells are derived from an in vitro embryo between five days and seven weeks. Regenerative medicine can benefit greatly from the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. This process enables damaged organs and tissues to heal themselves with the help of implanted stem cells matching the organ (Hunziker, 2010, p. 1). There are two traits
Stem cell research is the future of medical and biological research and remedies, and it is fascinating to watch the progression of this new and important science as it unfolds. These cells were discovered in mouse embryos in the 1980s, and are remarkable because of their potential to grow into a variety of different kinds of cells within a body. Common in fetuses, and more rare in adult animals of all kinds, stem cells can be manipulated in useful ways to repair many tissues, dividing limitlessly for therapeutic purposes. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or to differentiate into more specialized tissue, such as nerve, pancreas, bone marrow, or unique blood components. Initially
Stem cell research indicates that these cells can help carry out organ transplants, treat various diseases affecting human beings, and aid in repairing and replacing various body tissues. One reason stem cells, especially embryonic stem cells, are so effective at treating diseases is they are free from genetic disorders. This ensures a significantly high success rate at curing the ailments they are used to treat. Stem cell transplants, if widely adopted, could give lasting solutions to many medical problems facing humanity. This will be possible because the embryonic cells, or the reprogrammed somatic cells, if induced to sick people, can help regenerate, repair or replace worn out, damaged, or diseased tissues. This will help get solutions to organ malfunction, through removing affected organs and then inducing stem cells, which then help to regenerate or repair the affected organs
“Through the isolation and manipulation of cells, scientists are finding ways to identify young, regenerating ones that can be used to replace damaged of dead cells in diseased organs. This therapy is similar to the process of organ transplant, only the treatment consists of the transplantation of cells rather than organs. The cells that have shown by far the most promise of supplying diseased organs with healthy cells are called stem cells.” (Chapter Preface)
The first type of stem cell, an embryonic stem cell, is known for being able to continuously multiply, as well as for being pluripotent. They can be “derived in vitro from the blastocyst of an embryo usually left over from in vitro fertilization” (Forraz & McGuckin, 2011, p.61). Unlike other types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells have yet to be used in any kind of clinical treatment of patients. The high risks of “immune rejection” or “teratoma formation” are serious obstacles (Harris, 2009, p.182). The second type of stem cell, adult stem cells, is primarily considered to be multipotent and may be found in “specific adult human tissues” such as the skin or bone marrow, just to name a few. Over the last twenty years, the amount of scientific research and trials using adult stem cells has grown significantly, despite their lower potency than embryonic stem cells (Forraz & McGuckin, 2011, p.61). Lastly, cord blood stem cells, are technically considered to be a special type of adult stem cell, but their youthful properties give them “greater restorative and regenerative potential.” Directly following the birth of a child, these stem cells can be collected from the blood in the umbilical cord (Steenblock & Payne, 2006, p.9). Embryonic, adult, and cord blood stem cells
Death is one of the most significant life events people experience. Most people want to die a peaceful death and desire the same outcome for their family and friends. Medical advancements have resulted in people living longer lives with chronic illnesses. Despite the advancements in medicine and the available treatments of today, sometimes the patient is still unable to escape intolerable suffering; the patient’s quality of life diminishes.
Palliative care services began in the acute-care hospital setting and are now expanding to the outpatient setting in homes and outpatient clinics. Multiple professional medical organizations, such as the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization, are looking for improved palliative care services in various settings (Rabow et al., 2013). Patients worldwide require these services. In the past, palliative care was mostly recommended for patients with a cancer diagnosis. Today, it is being offered to patients with a wide range of life-limiting diseases such as congestive heart failure and chronic
There are several new methods that have been developed since the start of the highly controversial stem cell debate which rectifies the major differences on both sides. New solutions such as Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS) acts as an alternate method to embryonic research in that it uses cellular reprogramming of adult skin cells.“The benefit of iPS is that stem cells can be created without the use of embryos, however, the cells resemble embryos in that they can, theoretically and under the appropriate conditions, be made to differentiate into any type of cell found in the body ” (Phillips, 2010). . There are also techniques being developed that use amnionic fluid, or stem cell extraction techniques that do not damage the embryo, that also provide alternatives for obtaining viable stem cell lines ” (Phillips, 2010). The only caveat to all of these newly developed alternatives is that no solution has been studied long enough to claim that it can be an effective substitute 100%. “To begin with, demand for
As our technologies and advances in medicine improve, patients are living considerably longer with chronic and life-limiting illnesses. Living longer with an illness usually means that the patient suffers longer with the side effects from the disease and its treatment. Palliative care (PC) can be a very important and beneficial service for patients, their family as well as their healthcare provider in meeting the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of the patient. Unfortunately, not all patients who suffer with a life-limiting illness experience the benefits of a palliative care service or if they do it is very near the end of life.