Changing the way we look at disease one stem cell at a time

Diseases are derived from the dying or dwindling cells of specific tissue, but stem cells are now helping to regenerate and replenish the sickly cells, leading to overall tissue regrowth. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, and even Cancer are on the road to being cured. While stem cells may not be able to eradicate the diseases all together, they can at least start to rebuild the damaged tissue, taking it one step at a time.

The reason behind stem cells’ rapid advancement in modern medicine is directly due to their potential to turn into a multitude of different cells and renew themselves through cell division. First discovered in mice, scientists quickly realized that these cells are the mother cell of almost every type of tissue in the human body. They began locating stem cells all over the body, high concentrations were found in bone marrow, the brain, liver and umbilical cord blood. However these are adult stem cells, or somatic stem cells. While still being multipotent, somatic cells are not as versatile as the pluripotent embryonic stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells, found in blastocysts, have the most potential for manipulation and the most range of options for therapy; however, there is a moral dilemma when it comes to harvesting these embryonic cells. In order to obtain the pluripotent or even totipotent cells, scientists have to break open a blastocyst (or embryo). Many people, including former president Bush, believed to be the destruction of a life and therefore unethical. Congress put the brakes on funding for embryonic stem cell extraction shortly after, and challenged researchers to find a way to harvest stem cells that did not damage or terminate the embryo. Not long thereafter, researchers began using a common practice when checking for potential hereditary diseases in IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) embryos. By removing a single cell from an eight cell wide embryo, they were able to obtain and cultivate the harvested cell while the embryo remained unharmed and fully functional. This method provides a greater access to a surplus of embryonic stem cells, paving the way to more successful transplants and procedures geared towards curing many types of diseases.

Having a surplus of embryonic-like cells is aiding in the regeneration of dying or unhealthy cells. Today, there are many uses for stem cell research and application: type one diabetics can create their own insulin generating pancreatic cells; Alzheimer’s patients can revive and replenish dying brain cells necessary for memory and cognition use. Stem cells’ regenerative technology is crucial for the advancement of disease and condition reversal. They have already been recorded in causing some cancer cells to “self-destruct”.

Stem cells are one of the most important advancements in modern medicine. By using your own cells to regenerate dying tissues, it is a more natural cure for disease. Most of the time diseases are commonly treated with radiation or some other collection of chemicals found in modern medical therapies. With direct injections to the site of tissue mutation, stem cells are more likely to be accepted by your body than most other foreign forms of transplantation. Stem cells are ready and available for any type of disease the human body may contract. As research and testing continues, I believe that stem cells will become one of the most useful advancements in modern medicine. Whether that is for transplantations for cell regeneration, or drug trials to provide personalized medication, everyone would benefit. With the unlimited potential, and mercuriality of stem cells, the advancements in modern medicine will soon be able to surpass thousands of diseases.