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Stem Cells - The New Frontier

Aug 26, 2007
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 won't even need doctors anymore. Every time something goes wrong, you'll just pop offer to your local stem cell treatment facility to get a tune-up with some freshly grown injectable stem cells engineered to cure your newest malady.

What are stem cells? Stem cells are cells that haven't 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 stem 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 stem cells for testing from the original stem cell 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 stem cell treatments, is to prevent the patient's immune system from rejecting the injected stem cells. A similar dilemma occurs with organ transplants, as the recipients' immune system 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 stem cells into the area where a test patient had been suffering from acute arthritis, and the results were astonishing. The stem cells divided into healthy joint cells that integrated themselves into the inflamed area and reversed the arthritic condition. The stem cells that were used had been taken from the patient's sibling to prevent rejection.

Stem cells will ultimately be the final frontier of medicine, providing cures for diseases that scientists have struggled with for years, such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, and Parkinson's. However, there is much opposition to the research. Prominent religious leaders and idealogues are opposed to research that uses embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are created through fertilization by not allowing the stem cells to differentiate into a fetus and then isolating the cells for experimentation. The religious right feels that this act is tantamount to abortion. However, if stem cell research is to reach its full potential, the creation of further embryonic stem cells will be a necessity, as the existing stem cell lines are not enough to support adequate research.

In the end, science will likely win, as some states have already funded stem cell research that uses both existing lines and embryonic stem cells. It may take some time, but the cures that will result from the usage of stem cells are far too important too dismiss in favor of religious concerns.
About the Author
Jim Pretin is the owner of http://www.forms4free.com, a service that helps programmers make email forms.
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