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Will Stem Cell Treatments Become A Reality?

Mar 1, 2008
One day in the not too distant future, modern medicine will change completely, and stem cells will be used to treat and cure serious conditions that as of right now are still considered untreatable and irreversible. We will not even need doctors anymore. Every time something goes wrong, you will just pop offer to your local gene therapy clinic to get a tune-up with some freshly grown injectable stem cells engineered to cure your latest malady.

What are stem cells? They are cells that have not decided what they want to be yet. They are undifferentiated, non-specific human cells with a full complement of DNA that have not yet transformed into anything specific, such as the cells in your hand, or the cells in your hair follicles. These cells are capable of being a mechanic for your body; they can repair you by undergoing cell division to manufacture whatever cells are needed in order to replace old, damaged, or diseased cells that are no longer viable and need to be replenished.

Stem cell lines, once isolated, are very easy for scientists to work with because they can continue to make these cells for testing from the original line, due to the fact that those original lines are basically immortal, providing scientists with an unlimited supply that they can use for experimentation.

Currently, stem cell treatments are not available for most conditions and are usually only utilized in bone marrow transplants and not much else. The primary challenge that researchers face, as they attempt to perfect the usage of these treatments, is to prevent the immune system of the patient from rejecting the injected cells. A similar dilemma occurs with organ transplants, as the immune system of the recipient can reject the donation.

There have been a few successful, high risk experiments that utilized stem cells to reverse a debilitating condition. One of the most noteworthy examples occurred within the past 2 years, as scientists injected cells into the area where a test patient had been suffering from acute arthritis, and the results were astonishing. The cells divided into healthy joint cells that integrated themselves into the inflamed area and reversed the arthritic condition.

Stem cells will ultimately be the final frontier of medicine, providing cures for diseases that scientists have struggled with for years, such as Alzheimers, heart disease, and organic brain disease. However, there is much opposition to the research. Prominent religious leaders and idealogues are opposed to the research.

The religious right feels that creating an embryo to do research is tantamount to abortion. However, if the research is to reach its full potential, the creation of further embryos will be a necessity in order to support adequate research.

In the end, science will likely win, as some states have already funded the research that uses both existing cell lines and embryos. It may take some time, but the cures that will result from the usage of these treatments are far too important too dismiss simply because of religious beliefs.
About the Author
Jim Pretin is the owner of http://www.forms4free.com, a service that helps programmers make an HTML form
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