Earlier this year a man was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma. A cancer that is more common in females than in males. Though a very common cancer, this one went untreated for years due to the fact that it was unknown that he even had it. Now you may be asking yourself, did the man do anything to cause the cancer? The answer to that is no, the man up until then lived a relatively healthy life. Cancer effects all of us is some way shape or form. You may know someone that is suffering right now. Someone very close to you, now what would you do if I told you that there could be a cure? Well stem cell research is breaking ground in this area…..Did you know that stem cells are the source of at least some , and perhaps all cancers. What you’re going to learn from me today is exactly what stem cell research is, how it can potentially help in treating a range of medical problems that could lead us closer to cures, the facts about the embryo’s used, and what we can do to support stem cell research. What exactly is stem cell research about? Did you know that stem cell research has been around for over 30 years now? According to “Stem Cells for Dummies” the book, stem cells are primitive or unspecialized cells that can help in tissue repair and rejuvenation. When they divide, stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell needed, such as brain, blood or muscle cells, this is what makes them different from other types of cells. There are a couple of different stem cells however, adult stem cells and embryonic. Different kinds of stem cells have different abilities and limitations. Adult stem cells can reproduce themselves and create specific types of cells, but how flexible they are still remains a question. Embryonic stem cells appear to be the most flexible, able to grow indefinitely in the lab and give rise to all the cell types in the adult body. Let’s explore adult stem cells a little bit. Adult or tissue stem cells are usually multipotent, meaning that they can give rise to some or all of the cell types in their home tissues. Adult stem cells can reproduce themselves, or self-renew, but up until recently they were thought to do so to a more limited extent. These stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow, placentas and umbilical cords. Until recently, it was believed that adult stem cells could only create similar types of cells. For instance, it was thought that stem cells residing in the bone marrow could give rise only to blood cells. However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be more versatile than previously thought and able to create unrelated types of cells after all. For instance, bone marrow stem cells may be able to create muscle cells. This research has led to early-stage clinical trials to test usefulness and safety in people.
Now let’s talk about embryonic stem cells; the heart of the debate; when I say the word embryonic, what springs to mind? A mental picture of a fetus? This is what most people think of. However, at the point when human embryonic cells are collected for research, they haven’t yet formed what most people think of when they hear the word embryonic or embryo. Embryonic stem cells are called embryonic because they’re resultant from the very earliest stages of embryonic development – before the cells begin to differentiate or become specialized as muscle cells, blood cells, nerve cells etc. Embryonic stem cells are derived from blastocysts. Blastocysts are a cellular mass formed during the development of mammalian embryos. The mass is divided into an inner and outer cell mass, and consists of about 150 cells. This stage of development occurs before implantation. Embryonic stem cell research is performed using embryos that are typically only 4-6 days old. These are pluripotent stem cells, meaning they can divide into more stem cells or they can specialize and become any type...
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