Stem Cells: What How and Why? Essay

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Stem Cells: What, How and Why?

Stem cells are infinitely valuable when considering their potential applications in the medical profession. While current legislative restrictions have halted the development of new ?stem cell lines? to any agency or company that receives any form of governmental grants, there is no question that the medical profession is standing at the brink of a new era of technological advancements in healthcare and research.
Stem cells are valuable due to the fact that they are
?non-designated,? (have no specifically assigned task in the body, i.e. liver cells, brain cells, skin cells, etc.) and they also have the ability to divide indefinitely. Thus, theoretically stem cells could replace any damaged or lost
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The first method, developed by Dr. Thomson involves ?the isolation of pluripotent stem cells directly from the inner cell mass of human embryos at the blastocyst stage. Dr.
Thomson received embryos from IVF (InVitro Fertilization) clinics. ?.Dr. Thomson isolated the inner cell mass and cultured these cells producing a pluripotent stem cell line.?
(NIH Primer)

The second method of deriving pluripotent stem cells was developed by Dr. Gearhart. In this more controversial method,
Gearhart obtained stem cells from the fetal tissue of terminated pregnancies. He took cells from areas of the fetus that would soon develop into the reproductive organs of the fetus. He then isolated the inner cell mass and cultured these cells. In was in this way that Dr. Gearhart produced a pluripotent stem cell line which would be available to other researchers. What little we know about stem cells has already altered the course of medical research and new findings are sure to expand on this occurrence. The potential applications of stem cell research include advancements in the study of Parkinson?s,
Alzheimer?s, spinal cord damage, stroke, burn victims and patients in need of skin grafts, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis in addition to answering some of the many questions regarding gene therapy.
So what?s the problem? Well, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) issued a ?primer? to explain what exactly are stem cells and what

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