Cells having the power of grabbing the properties of other type of body cells are known as stem cells. Or we can say, stem cells are the cells that can form any type of body cell and also replace the damaged cells of the affected areas.
We can better understand this by a simple example; stem cell is like clay that can be mould in any type of body cells. Isn’t it excited?
Well, in that condition we may call them as “wonder cells”, after all they have surprised everyone including me.
And I am sure that you really want to know more about the stem cells, where do they come from? What are they used for? etc. Stem cells are long lived and they can repair the damaged cells for long period of time.
Some people thinks that stem cells derived from embryo only, because embryonic stem cells research is a controversial issue and that’s why they are aware of it only but there are many types of stem cells and all of them are different from each other such as embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells etc. and there are lots of sources of stem cells in human body.
Some of the sources of stem cells are enumerated below:
- Human embryo: these cells are derived from the inner cell mass of blastocyst stage in early days of embryo formation.
However, the isolation of these cells is still a debatable topic. But the qualities of these cells make them different from other type of stem cells because these cells are pluripotent cells that can give rise to any of the specialized cells.
- Umbilical cord blood: This is the most convenient option for stem cells isolation and also it has no ethical issues.
During the birth of a child, doctors generally discarded the umbilical cord but umbilical blood cord can be saved for stem cells on the request of couple concern. These cells can be preserved for future treatments of the child. This is a painless process.
- Deciduous teeth: stem cells can also be isolated from deciduous teeth of the children. These cells then can be used for drug screening and other medical purposes.
- Amniotic fluid: amniotic fluid is also a source of stem cells. These cells can be derived from the woman’s body during pregnancy.
- Placenta: stem cells can be derived from the mesoderm layer of placenta during embryonic development.
- Bone marrow: adult bone marrow is a rich source of stem cells. Doctors can extract stem cells from adult person.
- Cord tissue: cord tissue can also be used for isolating stem cells. Cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells. It is also a pain free process.
- Pluipotent cells: how can we forget pluripotent cells as they can give rise to any of the stem cells? Pluripotent cells are embryonic stem cells that is in controversy but don’t worry we have another option of pluripotent cells and that is induced pluripotent cells formed by the adult stem cells.
Above all are the natural sources of stem cells but you can also get them artificially by the IVF technique. In this, stem cells are taken from the embryo that has formed outside the woman’s body. But it is also facing controversy.
What are stem cells used for
You know that the stem cells have the ability to develop into another type of body cell that’s why scientist try use them for treating various diseases such as genetic disorders, damaged cells etc. Scientists are craving for stem cells so they can use them for such purposes.
There are many questions related to stem cells and scientists want their answers. Scientists can also culture stem cellssssss in laboratory.
Scientists used stem cells for various purposes such as:
- For detecting the cause of a particular disease: scientists try to find the cause of disease in human body.
As you know stem cell can be differentiate into any of the cell such as nerve cell, blood cell, fat cell, muscle cell, so these cells can provide a link to scientist about the conditions that are responsible for the disease.
Replace or regenerate the damaged cells of the body: stem cells can form number of copies of it. They have the great power of division.
They can replace the old injured cells by the new one. Stem cells have also the potential of forming new tissue by divisions that can be used in tissue transplantation. With the stem cell transplantation, a patient can get the tissues or organ formed by his own stem cells that can also reduce the chance of rejections.
Transplantation is of two types – autologous and allogenic. An autologous transplant refers to when stem cells are transplant from the patient’s own body whereas allogenic refers to when stem cells are transplant to the patient from a donor.
- Effectiveness of drugs can also be detected on stem cells: researcher may also investigate the effectiveness of drugs on a particular type of body cell.
They can also detect the mechanism of a drug on the cells. These also help them in detecting the reason of how do they treat a disease? Some advance researches are going on it. With the stem cells, we need not to test drugs on living bios.
Treating many diseases: researchers are found treatment of many incurable diseases by the help of stem cells.
It is believed that
stem cells can treat many disease such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Stroke injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Low hearing
- Low vision etc.
Presently, scientists are trying to find more uses of stem cells in human body.
Benefits of stem cell research
Stem cell research is a major breakthrough in the medical field. This ensures wellness of a patient for long period of time.
New discoveries in the stem cell provide various treatments for the incurable disease. Several clinical trials are running worldwide for new treatments of dangerous diseases. However embryonic stem cell research is still a debatable topic.
Some people may upset with the embryonic stem cell research because of its isolation. But scientists believe that they can save an existing life through the stem cells research. Versatility of stem cells provides an opportunity to scientist for more research. Scientists are trying to open the mysterious box of stem cells.
Formation of any type of cell can be done by stem cells that help in detecting and treating the cause of disease. But this stem cell research will take a longtime to reveal it secrets.
So we have to wait a little more. But we can’t neglect the negative aspects of it as stem cells transplantation can cause tumors in the patient’s body. This has not yet been proved but there is always a possibility it.
Stem cell research can also help scientists in understanding the cell anatomy, morphology, physiology etc. Even on 5 October, 2016, some scientists from Carnegie institution for science said that they have succeeded in increasing muscle repair’s that could combat muscular dystrophy in upcoming days.
There will be benefit of it for the persons who is facing degenerative muscle disease and also for the old aged persons, athletes etc.
Skeletal muscles are attached with the bone but during injury they get detached and in general, muscle stem cells help them in its repairing. But this repairing ability affects when the number of stem cells in the body decrease due to old age or any other reason.
Only sufficient amount of stem cell can help in repairing muscle cells. Scientists then tried to find out the way, whether they could increase the pool size of stem cells and guess what?
They have actually succeeded in increasing the pool size of muscle stem cells in the body that could also treat muscular dystrophy in future. This is such a big discovery of medical field.
Stem cells can be preserved for the future treatments with the consent of parents concern but not all parents think same. There is always a benefit of saving stem cells.
Even a couple can also saved the wisdom tooth of his child for future stem cell treatment. Stem cells can also cure dental illness. Hair loss treatment is also done by stem cell therapy.
Even you surprised to know that china has gone too far away with the stem cells. China is using stem cell therapy for enhancing beauty. I think with this, you came to know something new and different about stem cell treatments. So with the above discussion we can conclude that stem cell research is really beneficial for us.
What can stem cells cure
You know that stem cell shave the ability to form any kind of body cells. They can differentiate into specialized cells and also they can replace damaged cells of the body. Scientists used this potential of stem cells in preventing or curing many diseases. There is huge variety of diseases that stem cells can cure. Let’s take a look! What can they cure?
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute undifferentiated leukemia
- Acute myelogenous (AML)
- Polycythemia vera
- Agnogenic myeloid metaplasia
- Acute myelofibrosis
- Essential thrombocythemia
- Juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Chronic myelogenous
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Non- Hodgkin’s disease
- Reticular dysgenesis
- Chronic granulomatous disease
- Neutrophil actin deficiency
- Hurler’s syndrome
- Hunter’s syndrome
- Sanfilippo syndrome
- Morquio syndrome
- Maroteaux- lamy syndrome
- Sly syndrome
- Gaucher’s disease
- Krabbe disease
- Metachromatic leukodystropy
- Wolman disease
- Niemann disease
- Familial erythrophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
- Histiocytosis- X
- Sickle cell disease
- Beta thalassemia major
- Omenn’s syndrome
- Kostmann syndrome
- bare lymphocytwe syndrome
- ataxia- telangiectasia
- DiGeorge syndrome
- Absence of T and B cells SCID
- Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
- Common variable immunodeficiency
- X- Linked lymphoproliferative disorder
- Wiskott- Aldrich syndrome
- Lesch- Nyhan syndrome
- Glanzmann thrombasthenia
- Cartilage- hair hypoplasia
- Congenital thrombocytopenia
- Multiple myeloma
- Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia
- Plasma cell leukemia
- Wing carcoma
- Renal cell carcinoma
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Skin cancer
- Eye disorder
- Ewing’s sarcoma
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Diabetes type1
- Alopecia universalis
- Crohn’s disease
- Systemic lupus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune cytopenia
- Behcet’s disease
- Chronic coronary artery disease
- Acute heart damage
- Corneal regeneration
- Spinal cord injury
- Sideroblastic anemia
- Red cell aplasia
- Primary amyloidosis
- Fanconi’s anemia
- Diamond blackfan anemia
- Limb gangrene
- Jaw bone replacement
- Surface wound healing
- Skull bone repair
- Liver cirrhosis etc.
With the above list you may easily understand the potential of stem cells. Stem cell therapy is so promising. And the best part is stem cells can be preserved in stem cell bank and these stem cells will be an elixir for one’s life for future injuries.
So what you are waiting for, go and preserve your stem cells for a healthy future. So we can say stem cell preservation is like an insurance of your life.
Stem cell therapy for diabetes
Before discussing about stem cell therapy for diabetes, let me tell you about diabetes, what it is? Diabetes is an impairment of insulin in the body. When we take food, we get fats, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates etc. from food. Carbohydrates further change into glucose in the body and then this glucose transfer to blood through the insulin.
Glucose is like a fuel of our body that gives us energy. But in case of diabetes, insulin production is harmed. When insulin is not produces in proper amount then this is known as diabetes type 1 and when insulin is not transported to the blood due to any cause then this is called as diabetes type2.
Beta cells of pancreas produce insulin in body. In short, pancreas is the insulin producing organ. Diabetic patient is generally diagnosed through blood test. Glucose level is measured in blood test. Diabetic patients have to take insulin injections.
There is always a chance of kidney, heart and nerve damage in diabetic patients. In diabetes type 1 body’s own immune system attacks beta cells and diabetes type 2 is due to metabolic disorder in which level of glucose is increased in blood (hyperglycemia) and primarily insulin is not properly used by the body and as the time passes pancreas stop producing sufficient amount of insulin.
Diabetes may occur in adults or children. Some of the symptoms of diabetes are given below:
For diabetes type 1
- Urination with bedwetting
- Weight loss
- Blurred image
- Vomiting and nausea
For diabetes type 2
- All time thirsty
- Blurred image
- Unnecessary weakness
- Weight loss
As you know that beta cells are damaged in diabetes type 1, doctors transplant beta cells from donor to the diabetic patients but diabetic patients are more as compared to donors. So scientists differentiate stem cells into beta cells and then transplant to the patient. They observed that these beta cells are capable of producing insulin.
Beta cells are first transplant in mice body for observing its effect in the body. They found that these cells are able to produce insulin and after that scientists transplant beta cells in human body and they found the appropriate results.
With stem cell therapy, patients need not to take insulin injections and it can cure diabetes type 1.But scientist are still not sure about the safety of this stem cells therapy for diabetes. There may be a chance of tumor in patients however it has not yet been proved.
With the above successful procedure, scientists may also test the effect of drugs on diabetic patients and trying to find new more effective drugs on diabetic patients.
And in diabetes type 2, doctors isolate stem cells from adipose tissues of patient’s own body and then transplant to his body. This stem cell therapy shows positive results. It accelerates the healing process of damaged cells and also repairs them.
Doctors used adult stem therapy for diabetes type 2 and the scientists are satisfied with its result. And the good thing is scientists have not yet been observed any of its side effects on the patient’s body. So we can say that adult stem cell therapy is most promising in treatment of diabetes type 2.
What is foetal stem cell research
Fetal stem cells are also known as embryonic stem cells. These cells are derived from 2-3 days old embryo. When embryo is few days old, this stage is known as blastocyst. At this stage, embryo is about 100 celled. It has two parts:
- Outer layer tropectoderm
- Inner cell mass
Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent in nature that can give rise to any of the specialized type of body cell. Adult stem cells are not pluripotent. Pluripotency is found in embryonic stem cells only.
Firstly scientists extract these fetal cells from mouse embryo and after this they extract them from human embryo.
But the main difference between the extraction of fetal cells from mouse and human embryo is that fetal stem cells can further be introduced into mice fetus but in case of human, it is not possible to inject embryonic stem cells back in an embryo.
For human fetal stem cells scientists have to disassemble an embryo. There are lots of sources of stem cells in human body but the pluripotency of these embryonic stem cells make them different from other stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can aid in curing many ailments such as cancer, stroke, brain injury etc.
Generally spare embryos are taken for the isolation of embryonic stem cells. These spare embryos are the result of IVF technique but these embryos can be used by the will of the couple concern only. Even some couple donates their embryo for such kind of research. Frozen embryos may also used for this purpose.
Due to its isolation some people thinks it unethical. But some are in support of fetal stem cell research that’s why this topic is hotly debated.
But researchers are trying to find other ways of isolating fetal cells so that they need not to destroy an embryo. Adult stem cells can also be used for research purpose but scientists want to research on these fetal cells that may create new discoveries in medical fields.
These fetal cells can also cure Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amputation, cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injury etc. These fetal cells can differentiate in any of the specialized cells such as nerve cells, brain cells, blood cells, fat cells, gut cells etc.
Because of ethical issue people are criticizing fetal stem cell research so scientists try to create pluripotent cells and even they are succeeded in inducing adult stem cells into pluripotent cells and these induced embryonic stem cells are called as induced pluripotent cells (Ips). Scientists may use these Ips cells in place of embryonic stem cells for research purpose.
Stem cell research debate
Now let’s come to the ethical dilemma. You may understand that stem cell research is a promising research but wait! Everything comes with it negative and positive aspects. So how can this stem cell research deprive of it? Presently stem cells research is a steamy topic.
There are many reasons of stem cell research debate but the major cause is embryonic stem cell research. In embryonic stem cell research, embryonic stem cells are derived from an embryo by destroying it. Many ethicist, policy makers and government officials think it’s unethical.
According to them, it is against the humanity to kill a life for saving an existing life. They called it inhumane and non scientific. However, scientists used frozen or spare embryos for the research purpose. But still it is unethical because embryos are killed for it.
Scientists want to investigate embryonic stem cells even they don’t know the exact result of it. And ethicists also debated that whatever the result might be but they can not allow destroying an embryo for unpredictable results.
After all an embryo have some rights. But other people debated that how can be say that life exists in an embryo? Is there any right of embryo? Initially embryo is immature so we can use them for research purposes. These immature embryos can save one’s life from dangerous disease so why can not we use them for such purpose?
Embryonic stem cell research is banned in some countries. But some countries like America are funding for embryonic stem cell research that used spare and frozen embryos only. Scientists are developing new technique for isolating embryonic stem cells without killing an embryo.
Along with this, there are many reasons of stem cell, there is also a debate on the regulations of stem cell research. People are debating on the regulations of stem cell research. ISSCR (international society
for stem cell research) has set up in 2002. This organization has made some rules for stem cell research at international level.
These regulations provide uniformity for the stem cell research worldwide. Also this organization has set some guidelines in 2006 for human embryonic stem cells. This organization monitors all the activities on stem cells research worldwide.
If scientist works according to an ethicist will, then he has to give up embryonic stem cells. But how can he do so? Because embryonic stem cells may help them in curing or preventing many diseases.
This is partiality towards their professional but ethicist can not allow doing so. That’s why stem cell research debate is going on.
But if scientist really wants to investigate the embryonic stem cells then they can also opt for another option and that is induced pluripotent cells. If we can not investigate on embryonic stem cells because of its ethical issue so why can not be go for induced pluripotent cell. It has all properties of embryonic stem cells and it has no ethical issue. It is free from controversy.
As a matter of fact, embryonic stem cell research is going on for unpredictable results. Even we don’t know whether it really works or not. So how can be waste an embryo for such reason. But adult stem cell research is become promising in curing many ailments. Scientists are doing well in adult stem cell research and it is also free from controversy.