Stem Cell Research has taken a new curve in the advancement. If we talk in simple words, then the stem cells are the cells that have the capability of regeneration or that can be differentiate into special type of cell of the body. These cells can renew the damaged cells into new one. In fact we can also refer these cells as the foundation of all parts of the body.
These cells increased its number by division and also replace the old cells. These cells can differentiate into any type of body cell such as nerve cell, blood cell, gut cell, fat cell etc. These cells are long lived cells and their regeneration takes place throughout the life. Thus, the stem cell research would definitely open number of opportunities in the field of medical science.
First of all Ernst
Haeckel in 1868 used this term ‘stem cells’ for describing multicellular organisms that originate from unicellular organisms. After him, many scientists describe the term stem cells and stem cell research thus progressed to a new stage.
These stem cells can be isolate from the embryo, umbilical cord, skin, deciduous teeth etc. These stem cells are different from other type of body cell due to its differentiation quality.
Firstly these cells are undifferentiated but we can make them differentiate into specialized cells. Stem cells are of two types:
- Embryonic stem cells
- Adult stem cells or somatic cells or tissue specific stem cells : Adult stem cells are generally found in the form of specialized cells such as:
- Neural stem cells: Give rise to neurons or nerve cells
- Hematopoietic stem cells: Give rise to blood cells such as RBCs, WBCs, macrophages etc.
- Mesenchymal stem cells: Give rise to fat cells, stromal cells, skeletal stem cells etc.
- Skin stem cells: Give rise to epidermis, follicular stem cells etc.
- Epithelial stem cells: Give rise to goblet cells, enteroendocrine etc.
Embryonic stem cells have pluripotency which make them different from the somatic cells, or in other words embryonic stem cells are pluripotent cells that can give rise to any cell type of the body.
This pluripotency is not found in somatic cells (or adult stem cells). Adult stem cells can also be differentiating into special cells but at a certain range. This is the limitation of these adult stem cells but the best thing about these adult stem cells is that we can induce them into embryonic stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells (Ips cell).
Above information is all about stem cells. Now we step up towards the stem cell research. You must think that how can be used these stem cells for research purpose?
So you should know that these cells can be cultured into laboratory. Number of copies can be made by the scientists for research purpose. Stem Cell Research in present scenario is going on throughout the world.
Versatility of these stem cells allows scientists research on them. Scientists can differentiate these cells into special cells and can find the cause of disease in a particular cell type. Scientists can also find the effectiveness of drugs on disease, how drug reacts with the cells in a disease?
These cells have the potential of treating genetic defects. Presently scientists are working on human stem cells. Scientists involves in treating cancer, Alzheimer, stroke, arthritis, Parkinson defect etc. Scientist successfully treat blindness through these stem cells.
What is stem cell research controversy
There are some debating issues with regard to the stem cell research. Main controversy arises with the embryonic stem cell research because these cells are isolated by disassembling a human embryo.
There is no or few controversy with the adult stem cell research, because in these adult stem cells we need not to destroy any life.
Human embryo is the only resource of embryonic stem cells for the scientists that’s why thousands of people debating on it, calling it non scientific and unethical.
But we have many resources of adult stem cells such as umbilical cord, breast milk, skin, bone marrow etc. So scientists may easily use these cells for research purpose but the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells excited them.
They really want to know the versatility of embryonic stem cells, how they formed? How effective they are for treating dieses? etc.
However, they have successfully reprogrammed adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells but these IPS cells are not exactly like that, they differ a little bit in its characteristics. Exact copy of pluripotent cell is not formed.
Isolating embryonic stem cells from an embryo is not only the issue. People are also debating on regulations for stem cell research.
Some country banned embryonic stem cell research but some are funding for embryonic stem cell research in case if embryonic stem cells isolate from the spare embryos of the fertility centre only.
Scientists try to discover new techniques for extracting embryonic stem cells without damaging an embryo. If scientists are success in do so then the debate will over. There will be no controversy.
Presently controversy is related with the human ethics. Many questions arise for the embryonic stem cell research that’s why this controversy is going on. People are debating on the questions below:
- Are there any rights of human embryo?
- When a life begins in an embryo?
- Can be call a living person similar to an embryo?
- Few days old embryo is immature so how a life can exists in it?
- Why can not be use frozen or spare embryos of IVF process?
- Is it ethical to destroy a life for saving the existing one?
- How can be lowers down the standard of a human life?
- Human life is god gifted; no one has the right to take it besides the god.
For the above questions you may understand stem cell research controversy. However scientists try to find new ways for pluripotent cells without ruining any embryo. Scientists have succeeded in creating induced pluripotent cells and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technique.
If stem cell research will go on then scientists will successfully find new alternatives for the embryonic stem cells. They will need not to kill any embryo; also the debate will stop.
Stem cell research pros cons
We have studied the stem cell research controversy but what’s the reason behind this controversy. You may find it by knowing the pros and cons of stem cell research. Before reaching any conclusion you should know its positive and negative aspects. Pros and cons of stem cell research are given below:
Stem cell research pros:
- Stem cell research may open new door for medical science. New discoveries can be done by the scientist on stem cell.
- Scientists may develop new techniques for treating genetic defects such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s etc.
- Stem cells have the renewable potential that helps in replacing damaged or injured cells.
- These cells can be dividing into number of copies and can be cultured in laboratory. Scientists can work on number of stem cells at a time or find effectiveness of particular drugs n different cells.
- Embryonic stem cells are long lived so these can be preserved in laboratory.
- Adult stem cells can be altered to pluripotent cell results in induced pluripotent stem cells.
- Chances of rejection can be avoid in induced pluripotent stem cells.
- Research on these cells may help scientists in finding the cause of disease.
- Stem cell research is truly beneficial for treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries, myocardium, infections, diabetes mellitus etc.
- Stem cell research provide a knowledge to scientists how a cell replace or renew damaged cell in the body.
- Stem cell research may also reduce the risk of transplantation.
- Stem cell research is expensive but it can be compensate by its thousand of benefits.
- SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer) is a consequence of stem cell research.
Stem cell research cons:
- Some people believed that killing an embryo for stem cells is clearly a murder.
- Killing an embryo is unethical that give rise to controversy.
- Some scientist also use frozen or spare embryo that is formed by the IVF technique but it is also inhumane.
- This ethical issue hindered embryonic stem cell research.
- Scientists are bound to adult stem cell or somatic cell research only.
- It has not yet been proved how effective is embryonic stem cell research?
- How much these cells are effective in combating genetic diseases have not cleared yet.
- Regeneration ability of these cells may have reverse effect results in causing tumors during cancer treatment.
- Use of embryonic stem cells in disease treatment is not so simple. It needs a long and painful procedure.
- A rejection chance is increased with embryonic stem cells due to which doctors have to refer immunosuppressant for the patient.
- Stem cell research is unpredictable.
- These stem cells are less in numbers when isolated from the cord blood or adults. Due to its minimal count scientists face difficulty in research.
Stem cell research facts
Facts of stem cell research allow you in getting an idea of stem cell basics. There is lot of facts of regarding stem cell research.
- Stem cells have special properties that make them different from other type of body cell. Primary function of stem cells is proliferation. They can increase their number by division and can help in repairing damage tissues or cells.
- Stem cells can differentiate into any type of body cells. These cells have the potential to differentiate unspecialized cells into specialized cells of the body such as nerve cell, blood cell, fat cell, gut cell etc.
Stem cells can be categorized on the basis of its potency:
- Totipotent cells: these cells can give rise to any type of body cell along with placenta.
- Pluripotent cells: some totipotent cells give rise to pluripotent cells. These pluripotent cells can be differentiate into any type of cell besides totipotent cells.
- Multipotent cells: these cells give rise to cell lining of specific type of cell.
- Unipotent cells: these cells can give rise to any single type of cell.
- Stem cells may help in treating leukemia, retinal disease, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, burns, diabetes etc.
- Cord blood is rich source of stem cells.
- Scientists are trying to find new techniques for isolating embryonic stem cells without killing an embryo.
- Adult stem cells can be induced into embryonic stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells and these cells can worked as embryonic stem cells.
- Some scientists from University of Minnesota claimed that they successfully altered the effects of stroke by the use of stem cells and these stem cells isolated from umbilical cord.
- Stem cell research is allowed for therapeutic cloning only. Reproductive cloning is banned in almost all the countries.
- Embryos used for embryonic stem cells are generally leftover by the fertility centre or IVF techniques.
- Therapeutic cloning is done for treating disease whereas reproductive cloning forms new organisms with the same genetic material of the host.
- Scientists try to find the cause of uniqueness of stem cells.
- Isolation of embryonic stem cells is still controversial. No other methods or techniques haven’t created yet now.
- Regulations are set up for embryonic stem cells by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the year 2000.
Mainly debate is arising due to the destruction of embryo for embryonic stem cells. Some ethicist, policy makers, government officials do not want to compromise with the human life for embryonic stem cell research. They stand out against embryonic stem cell research calling it unethical.
According to them, this embryonic stem cell research is irrelevant because it destroy an embryo for unpredictable results. We can not kill an embryo for these embryonic stem cell research, doesn’t matter how much it beneficial for us?
An embryo can not be destroying for this purpose because this is inhumane. Even the best thing is we can create induced pluripotent stem cells for embryonic stem cell research so why choose for embryo destruction? After all research means creating new things, not destroying the existing one.