You can’t help but overhear debates and conversations about stem cells these days. Over the past several years, stem cells and their use have been the issue of ongoing debate in many circles including religious and political ones. It can be difficult for the average person to really weigh in on these debates or know how to feel without some basic stem cell facts about exactly what stem cells are, what they do and how they can be used to promote health, healing and wellness.
There are some basic stem cell facts that will help anyone understand what they are, how they work and how they feel about their use in the field of science. These facts include but are not limited to:
- There are not one but two types of stem cells. There are adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells.
- Adult stem cells generate bone and muscle cell replacements that have been lost due to disease, age or injury in bone marrow and muscle tissues.
- Adult stem cells will always redevelop into the type of tissue that they are found in. In other words, if a stem cell is replacing another in the muscles, it will develop into a muscle cell.
- Embryonic stem cells are different in that they won’t necessarily become a certain type of cell. They can be transformed into many different types of cells.
- Embryonic stem cells are able to renew themselves through cell division, which is not seen in specialized cells in the adult body. The result of this finding is that embryonic stem cells can offer an unlimited source of cells that are needed for a variety of medical research areas.
- Embryonic stem cells come from eggs that are less than a week old. The stem cells can be donated for research purposes with the permission of those who have donated the cells.
- Thanks to the process of turning embryonic stem cells into other types such as nerve cells, bone cells and more, there is suddenly the ability to create bones, nerves and other tissues in the human body.
- Scientists have come to believe that embryonic stem cells have the ability to be used in the future to treat an untold numbers of diseases and injuries because they can develop into so many different types of cells.
- Diseases that could potentially be cured by stem cells include those such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, skin burns, arthritis, birth defects and even heart disease.
- It has been discovered that stem cells can be used to test new drugs that would otherwise require organ donors and there are never enough organ donors for every ongoing test or clinical trial.
- Those who do oppose the use of stem cells for research or potential medical cures believe that it is an unethical approach due to the fact that we are talking about a human embryo.
As you can see, the issue of stem cells and their use for medical research and treatment is very complicated to say the least. It’s true that there is much hope wrapped up in these small cells but it is also true that there is a lot of controversy involved. Millions of people around the world hope that the controversy is able to be overcome soon enough so that perhaps some of the debilitating diseases listed above can be cured or made more manageable.