Saturday, February 16, 2019

Why Are Stem Cell Research Facilities So Important To Our Future

By Christopher Wood

Every day seems to bring new breakthroughs in medical technology that are sometimes difficult to understand. Much of it can seem exciting, although many are concerned about the religious and moral implications that they bring with them. The value of stem cell research facilities, and what exactly they do, can be more readily understood once it's broken down.

First you have to know what stem cells are. Simply put these are base cells that generate cells with special functions. It is possible, in a laboratory to divide these base cells into what is called daughter cells. The daughter cells either create more base cells, called self-renewal, or they will be cells, called differentiation, that have more special functions, like brain cells, blood, bone, and heart muscle cells. The stems are the only cells in the body capable of generating new types of cells naturally.

Researchers can begin to understand how individual diseases develop by watching these particular cells grow. The science of regenerating or replacing human cells in such a way that it restores their normal function is known as regenerative medicine. It is possible to use stems to create specific cells that can regenerate or repair tissue that is damaged or diseased.

There are a whole host of diseases, currently without a cure, that could potentially be eradicated. They include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, strokes, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, cancer, and type 1 diabetes just to name a few. Stems can potentially be grown into new tissue that can be used in transplants. Researchers are working on all kinds of new applications that could be used in regenerative and transplant medicine.

Researchers can test news drugs with the use of stems. Rather than experimenting on human beings, researchers study these cells in order to learn whether they are safe for use in humans and how well the drugs work. Cardiac toxicity is an area that is showing great promise.

Researchers are studying how stems can be effective, after they have been programmed to turn into tissue specific cells, when it comes to new drugs. To create the utmost accuracy, the researchers have to program the cells to mirror the sorts of cells a new drug is meant to target. Tests of specific cells, for instance, might show what effect, if any, a new drug has on these cells and whether the drug changes the cells in some way.

Scientists can draw stems from a variety of sources, one of which is particularly problematic for some groups. Embryonic cells are taken from embryos that are only a few days old. These cells are unique because they can divide into more stem cells, or any other kind of cell that is in the human body. Embryonic cells have been the focus of those raising ethical objections to this type of research.

Adult stems can be altered to replicate the properties found in embryonic cells. Researchers have learned how to alter the genes in adult cells to mimic embryonic stems with the use of genetic reprogramming. This new technique may help prevent the immune system from rejecting new cells although it is still unknown whether or not it will adversely affect the human body.

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