Title: Stem Cell Research
According to Cambridge University’s research of 2007 on stem cells, Stem cells are groups of cells that are undifferentiated and with the ability to differentiate into specialized cell types (18). People especially scientist are interested in stem cells so as to understand better how diseases occur. This understanding is by watching how cells grow, mature and split. They are also interested on stem cells so as to create new cells since stem cells have a unique ability to transform into other cells or just stay as they are. When these stem cells change into other cells, the scientists can replace them with new ones. The last reason why scientists may have interests on stem cells is to test drugs. Drug test for their safety is carried out using the stem cells before reaching the market.
There are three unique features associated with the stem cells are, the first one is that they have the capability of dividing and regenerating themselves into new cells for long periods. Secondly, the stem cells are unspecialized and are mainly primary cells and lastly these cells have the ability to give rise to any specialized cell because they are unspecialized.
Stem cells are of two types. The first type is the somatic cells which are undifferentiated cells that divide to replace dead cells and repair damaged tissues and are found throughout the body. The second type of stem cells is the embryonic stem cells which have the ability to develop into any stem cell, and they derive from the blastocyst of the cell. The core difference between these two types of stem cells is that embryonic stem cell can become all types of cells of the body since they are pluripotent while the other type of cells is bound to differentiation into various cell types of their initial tissues. The ease of growing embryonic stem cells as compared to somatic cells that are rare in the mature tissues brings the second difference. Isolating somatic cells from a mature tissue is challenging. The two types are similar because tissues got from embryonic and somatic cells may be rejected by the body after they have been transplanted.
Human beings have stem cells in the form of somatic cells, and they make up the internal organs like the skin, bones, and blood. The stem cells have a characteristic of being pluripotent which means that they have the ability to develop into any cell or tissue. From this characteristic, there arises a type of somatic cells called the induced pluripotent cells which are types of somatic cells that have been genetically restructured to an embryonic stem cell-like state by being coaxed to express genes and properties that are important in defining embryonic stem cells. In the human bodies, these pluripotent cells and are reprogrammed to help in repairing tissues that have been damaged in the human body. They are found in transplantable organs like the kidney to avoid rejection in the case of a transplant.
Ethical issues are situations that require one to choose between alternatives that have to be evaluated as right or wrong. Like any other study, stem cell research and stem cell therapies are also surrounded by ethical issues ranging from an informed and enlightened consent in the delivery of biological materials to the protection of sexual interests of women in infertility treatment. These ethics ensure that individual rights are not breached in the process of investigating and studying more on stem cells.
Stem cells are used to grow long muscles by the use of extracellular matrixes. According to Parks an extracellular matrix (ECM) is a group of extracellular molecules which are usually secreted by the cells and offer both biochemical and structural reinforcement for the surrounding cells (10). Extracellular matrix is composed of an interlocking mesh of proteins and glycosaminoglycan in animals while in it is mainly composed of cellulose in plants. They are primarily found in the actin filaments of cytoskeletons. ECM’s play a great role in the process of repairing damaged tissues. Firstly, they provide a model integrity of form during the healing process and also the matrix molecules help in the control of cellular functions, mediate interactions between the cell and the matrix, and also serve as reservoirs and modulators of cytokines and actions of growth factors. The stem cells help in the repair of the damaged tissues by acting as a mechanism for support in which the stem cells can be exploited to help in the promotion of the complete repair of tissues and avoid any form of bad fibrosis.
In the recent past, the knowledge on stem cells has been used to grow human organs in the laboratory. According to the New York Films Media Group, some examples of human body parts that are developed in the laboratory include the mini-heart, mini-kidney, the fallopian tube, mini-stomach, vaginas, esophagus, ear and the urethra (23). The advantage of using the grown laboratory organ over the traditional organ donation is that it does not require loads of toxic drugs to suppress the immune system so that it can accept the transplanted organ unlike in the traditional organ donation. The other advantage of growing organs in the laboratory is that organs that cannot be transplanted from one person to the other such as the heart can be made and given to people unlike in the traditional organ donation where organs such as the liver, brain and the heart cannot be transplanted.
Cell Stem Cell. Cambridge, MA: Cell Press, 2007. Internet resource.
How to Build a Beating Heart. New York, N.Y: Films Media Group, 2010. Internet resource.
Parks, William C, and Robert P. Mecham. Extracellular Matrix Degradation. Berlin: Springer, 2011. Internet resource.