Stem Cell Research Controversy

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Stem Cells Research Controversy
Glenny L. Alawag, Jr.
August 8, 2011

Abstract

This paper provides the description of stem cells and the context of stem cells research. It tries to provide information on the latest developments of using stem cells in curing medical conditions of human beings, as well as its potentials in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. It also analyzes the controversy of the research as it enumerates the improvements and new proposals available. The pros and cons to each improvement such as the iPS are discussed. Lastly, it explains its stance on the disagreement.

Stem Cells Research Controversy

It has been more or less half a century when stem cells were used in human beings. Meanwhile, the controversial research has taken the attention of legislators and researchers for decades. That length of time has caused later advances and newer controversies. Despite this, many don’t have enough information to vote for one side. Understanding the nature and the researches linked to stem cells may help understand and solve the unending controversy. What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are “cells with the ability to divide for indefinite periods in culture and to give rise to specialized cells” (“Stem Cell Basics,” 2011). These cells help in the development, growth and repair of the body. Stem cells have three unique features. First, stem cells are unspecialized. Second, they can be induced to become specialized. Third, as described by researchers Zacharias, Nelson, Mueller and Hook (2011), stem cells are “capable of self-renewal and asymmetrical cell division.” Therefore, through cell division, the stem cells divide and can remain as stem cell or can become specialized such as brain cells and red blood cells (“Stem Cell Basics,” 2011). What are the Types of Stem Cells?

A distinction among stem cells is potency (Zacharias et al, 2011). Depending on the source of the stem cell, there are different abilities in the number and type of differentiated cell types they create. 1. Early Embryonic Stem Cells. The stem cells on the early days of ovum fertilization are described as totipotent. This is because the cells have the ability to become complete organisms (“The Stem Cell,” 2011). 2. Blastocyst Embryonic Stem Cells. On the fourth or fifth day, when the embryo undergoes the blastocyst stage, the totipotent cells become inner cell mass, which will develop as tissues and eventually a fetus. These cells are pluripotent because the cell can become almost any kind of cell of the body (Power & Rasko, 2011). 3. Umbilical Cord Stem Cells. The umbilical cord contains blood stem cells identical to the baby. These are multipotent because they can be differentiated into a limited range of cell types (“The Stem Cell,” 2011). 4. Adult Stem Cells. Adult stem cells, also called somatic stem cells, reside in already developed tissues as multipotent cells or undifferentiated cells. These cells are responsible for the growth and maintenance of the tissues in which they are found. For instance, skin stem cells become keratinocytes, hair follicles and epidermis (“Stem Cell Basics,” 2009). What positive results on stem cells treatment are already published? The earliest successful stem cell research started with adult stem cells. In 1950s, researchers discovered blood forming stem cells. Also called hematopoietic stem cells, these adult stem cells of the bone marrow are responsible in forming all types of blood cells in the body. Marrow stromal cells create bone, cartilage and adipose. The discovery initiated what is now known as bone marrow transplant for the treatment of leukemia. In fact, 40% of patients receive transplant donors from outside their own countries (“Stem cells,” 2009). Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) are now also used to treat leukemia and other blood disorders. This is a less invasive alternative to bone...
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