Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that play a significant role in modern medicine. They have the potential to differentiate and divide into any type of cell, thus have many uses.
Using stem cells[edit | edit source]
Most stem cells are obtained from spare embryos provided by fertility treatment clinics. These embryonic stem cells are used in a variety of ways:
1. They can be used to cure degenerative diseases. As they are undifferentiated, they can replace or repair damaged tissues in the body. This has been used to cure paralysis. blindness and, potentially, brain damage.
2. They can be used to grow new organs in vitro. These organs can be then used for transplants or drug testing.
Adult stem cells (found in the bone marrow) are harder to utilise due to the fact that they can form only a limited number of cell types. However, they have been used to:
1. Cure heart disease
2. Provide stem cells for therapeutic cloning. Adult cells are used to produce a cloned early embryo of the adult. This can then be used to produce new organs for the donor
Issues[edit | edit source]
Ethical: People argue that it violates human rights to use embryos who 'can't decide' to be used.
Medical: There could be potential, cancerous side effects.
Social: It is a very expensive and slow process.
To circumcise this, scientists are putting further research into umbilical stem cells and adult stem cells.