The Mysterious Cell
There is no cure, and while some can assume, no one knows the actual cause! How do words like this make you feel? What if these words were paired with your young child? How about the addition of shortened life span, major complications including loss of limbs, blindness and constant control? In many cases the same words are portrayed onto parents of newly diagnosed type 1 diabetics everyday. On average, every hour of every day, someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus, also known as Juvenile diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, which usually is diagnosed in young children, is life altering for all family members. There is no cure for the disease and it requires lifelong care. Diabetes is not only an emotional roller coaster, but the medical costs are outstanding. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), in 2007 $210 billion was spent due to the 23.6 million children and adults who have diabetes in the United States alone. In a world full of tremendous knowledge, breakthroughs and technology, there are still things which we must investigate further to find the answers. Stem Cell research is one of the medical items which must be further investigated to understand and continue developing solutions for diabetes and many other life altering diseases. While sometimes controversial and misunderstood, stem cell research holds great promise of finding medical cures and better treatments.
According to The University of Utah, Learn Genetics interactive website, Stem Cells are cells which currently do not have determined responsibility in the body. All other cells stem from a stem cell. Stem Cells are unique since they are able to divide, creating more stem cells, until they change to their destined cell type. The Learn Genetics web site explains that there are five main types of stem cells: Early Embryonic, Blastocyst Embryonic, Fetal, Umbilical Cord, and Adult. (Learn Genetics) To further realize the potential which stem cells hold, their origin and abilities need to be identified. The five types of stem cells are obtained from three main sources (National Institutes of Health). First, which is the most controversial, is the embryonic cells. The initial thought is of a baby, which has not been born, being used for research testing. This is somewhat skewed and misunderstood by presumptions and uninformed ideas. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation reports “…embryonic cells are obtained from surplus human embryos, which are created through in vitro fertilization, will never be implanted for fetal development, and would otherwise be discarded.” The embryos that are derived from eggs not fertilized in a woman’s body, which are used for embryonic stem cell research, are donated with informed consent from all donors. (National Institutes of Health) The Learn Genetics web site, along with others, argues that the blastocyst embryo has no human features yet and therefore is not evolved to a human state. Also, since the in vitro fertilization process stores many of the cells for future use and several of the stored cells are never used, resulting in their destruction, one must wonder if the research resulting from these embryos could hold the potential of saving other lives. Although there are those who consider the conception of the embryo at any stage as human life, and believe use of the embryo as being wrong. This is based on religious and personal feelings towards the embryo and should be respected, while remembering the overall purpose is towards unlocking the life altering potential. One way to help lesson the ethnical conflicts of stem cell research is through studies of other sources of stem cells. The second source of stem cell is from the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is a rich source of stem cells (Learn Genetics). It is also important as the Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology points out “It [Umbilical cord blood] has a potential for both hematopoietic [cell from...
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