Do you ever wonder if we could just culture new organs in laboratory and transplant them whenever we need? And even better we can grow new organs on ourselves just like how plants grow new stems. Stem cell research involves embryonic stem cells which have ability to divide indefinitely and can differentiate into any cell of the body. Stem cell research is one of the most controversial medical researches as some people consider it unethical to destroy an embryo to extract stem cells which is the only way to extract these pluripotent stem cells but there are some scientific researches being carried such as iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) out to address these issues so, stem cells research should be preferred over other medical researches as it holds the potential to make this world a better place through regenerative medicines and it is our most promising path to immortality.
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Embryonic stem cells or ESCs are extracted from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst which is a stage of embryo development and this cell mass gives rise to three germ layers that develop into a whole organism. Pluripotency, it is the most attractive property of embryonical stem cells and is being exploited successfully in regenerative medicines that have showed stunning results in treatment of several diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and therefore stem cell therapy is among the most promising ways to treat the patients suffering from various chronical degenerative diseases. Stem cell therapy can cure the deadly diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Arthritis, cardiovascular diseases and, can even be used to heal the nerve damage (Rusu, et al., 2016). Several studies and research have been done in order to promote the use the use of stem cell therapy to treat the cardiac diseases. In a study, the muscle fibers of the heart were derived from the ESCs of human and then these cells were injected into a monkey with damaged cardiac tissues, the results demonstrated that the damaged tissue heart showed significant restoration (Rusu, et al., 2016). Nerve damage is considered to be incurable as nerve fibers do not have ability to multiply and grow therefore the damaged cells cannot be replaced with the new one but the nerve damage can be cured with the help of stem cells therefore, a lot of handicapped people would get to live their life to the fullest. Stroke is one most of the major cause of physical disabilities as more than half of the stroke survivors are left with physical or mental disabilities that are caused due to damage to brain tissue during stroke (Cunningham, Abhyankar, Cowie, Galinsky and, Methven, 2018). The main focus of the stem cell therapy while treating these damaged brain tissues is to regenerate these tissues in laboratories from ESCs and then transplanting them into the patients to replace the damaged tissues.
To make this concept easier to understand I would say that stem cells can trigger immortality because they are themselves immortal. One of the biggest quests of mankind is to achieve immortality and stem cell research opens up the gates to this through regeneration of organs. As any kind of damage to the body such as scarred tissues, burns can be rebuilt with the help of stem cells. People who have lost their limbs in an accident or have a congenital physical deformity can be treated as their organs can be regenerated from the ESCs and then can be transplanted. Several mammalian organ regenerations have been performed by scientists. The complete organ regeneration can be demonstrated with the help of Deer antler regeneration as it serves as a model for the regeneration of organs of the mammals (Dong, Coates, Liu, Sun, Li, 2019).
Even though studies and research of embryonic stem cells to treat degenerative diseases have shown ground-breaking results, there are some drawbacks which include the immune response of the host’s immune system to the alien transplanted stem cells so therefore, the patients would have to go through extensive immunosuppressive strategies. The induced pluripotent stem cells which have been derived from the somatic ells of the same patient eliminate the chances of rejection from the immune system of the host. In induced pluripotency, the adult somatic cells of the human body can be converted into the pluripotent stem cells with the help of genetic manipulation. The genetic manipulation includes the introduction of transcription factors which are the protein that control the transcription of genes, into the adult somatic cells to convert them into the stem cells. Takahashi and Yamanaka transformed the adult somatic cells of a mouse fibroblast into stem cells by the introduction of four transcription factors which are Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4 with the help of retroviral system in 2006 (Rusu, et al., 2016).
Stem cell research is best the that the modern medical researches has to offer as the world can be changed with the amazing therapeutic applications of stem cells. Regenerative medicines have extreme potential although, the ethical issues related with the stem cell research are halting, yet, the long term benefits of stem cell therapy cannot be ignored.
- Cunningham, A. N., Abhyankar, P., Cowie, J., Galinsky, J., and Methven, K. (2018). Regenerative medicine: Stroke survivor and carer views and motivations towards a proposed stem cell clinical trial using placebo neurosurgery. Health Expectations,21(1), 326. doi: 10.1111/hex.12632
- Dong, Z., Coates, D., Liu, Q., Sun, H., and Li, C. (2019). Quantitative proteomic analysis of deer antler stem cells as a model of mammalian organ regeneration. Journal of Proteomics 195, 98-113. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2019.01.004
- Rusu, E., Necula, L. G., Neagu, A. L., Alecu, M., Stan, C., Albulesu, R., and Tanase, C. P. (2016). Current status of stem cell therapy: opportunities and limitations. Turkish Journal of Biology, 40(5), 955-967. doi: 10.3906/biy-1506-95
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