The New Medical Hope- Embryonic Stem Cells

February 3, 2014
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The question has at some point begged in all of our minds if we or someone we loved was diagnosed with a deadly disease such as cancer. What treatment option would we turn to? This year I have explored this idea and discovered that stem cell transplants can become the possible “Cure” for this deadly disease. I have actually made it my own mission this year to raise money for stem cell transplants, so far raising over $12,000. Now that I am learning more about this topic at school, I have discovered an even greater importance for these undifferentiated types of cells. This controversial topic of embryonic stem cells leaves a side for all of us to stand on. However, before you pick a side, did you know that embryonic stem cells could potentially benefit 100-150 million people in the United States through derived therapies and treatments, therefore finding solutions to multiple people’s health problems?

So now I am sure you are probably wondering what are stem cells (embryonic stem cells specifically)? Well, it all starts like this, stem cells are crucial to develop organisms. When an egg is fertilized by a sperm it takes 4-5 days for this process to occur. It all happens as a single cell continues to divide to make the next important phase, a Blastocyst. This Blastocyst is an undifferentiated (meaning no identity yet) “ball of cells” that contains stem cells inside. At this point it is an early stage embryo and stem cells can be removed without harming the embryo. These stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can be given chemicals to become any type of cell to transplant and cure multiple diseases. Now that you see the process that embryonic stem cells go through to be available for transplant you are beginning to see their importance.

Now that you are aware of the process to get the stem cells to be transplanted, you may be wondering why they are so important to save people’s lives. These stem cells can be used for transplants because as I mentioned earlier, they are pluripotent. This means they can be used to cure a number of diseases since they can become whatever type of cell you wish. For example if you had cancer (depending on the type) they could possibly give you a stem cell transplant to cure the cancer. This incredible treatment us for much more than just cancer, this is a possible cure for many diseases like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, etc (see figure 1.4 for photo showing potential uses). When the stem cells are removed from the embryo they have recently found a way to not harm the embryo! How much better can it get?

Now that you know all about embryonic stem cells and how they are so important in saving people’s lives, it’s time to look at how other people view this topic that is somewhat controversial. Not only does the average citizen have an opinion, but the government and many political parties have an opinion on this topic as well when it comes to funding research. The Republican Party tends to lean towards strict stipulations on how this research is to be done, in order to receive funding. The Democratic Party tends to be the opposite and lean towards the more liberal view of equal rights for all, and has more “open ended research. President Obama, since coming into office, has released all the stipulations on research and is providing more money for this research over embryonic stem cells. You can see a chart showing the republican vs. democrat party’s views on embryonic stem cells. As you now see how important stem cell research is not only to everyone but to public figures, and parties, have you decided what side of the fence you are on?

In closing, embryonic stem cell research and transplants could soon become the next “most effective treatment” for our culture. Many people can benefit from this crucial treatment with various diseases. Knowing what stem cells are and how they form is crucial in making your own opinion, however, for me; I am ready to see how we can make a difference in the medical field with this remarkable thing called “stem cells”!

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