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Hamza AlHaddad DP-1

Stem Cells
Stem Cells are able grow into many different types of cells with different
types of functions, and hence are useful for growth of tissues and
replacement of cells that have been lost or damaged.
Whenever a stem cell splits through mitosis, each new cell produced has
the ability to either stay as a stem cell or it can become a new cell with a
specialized function such as becoming a liver cell or a brain cell. There are
2 characteristics that separate stem cells from other cells, and they are:
That they are unspecialized cells that can split through mitosis even after
a long period of time of inactivity, they can still split to form new stem
cells that can have a specialized function. Secondly, under certain
physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become
tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions, such as a heart. In
the bone marrow, stem cells divide and replace the damaged cells by
becoming specialized, usually by becoming red and white blood cells. In
other organs such as the heart, stem cells only divide under certain
circumstances. Some people who may benefit from stem cell therapies
include those with spinal cord injuries, diabetes, cancer, burnt skin or
Parkinsons.

There are three methods for obtaining stem cells. The first method, is
from an embryonic cell that comes from a 3-5-day old embryo. A
blastocyst is a ball of undifferentiated cells that forms after an ovum is
fertilized, it usually contains between 4-16 cells. These are often created
by in vitro fertilization for implantation in infertile woman or gestational
carriers in order for these women to become pregnant. Some of the
unused blastocysts are then frozen and are stored for the futures use if it
deems to be necessary. The second method of obtaining stem cells is from
the umbilical cord. Stem cells can be found in the blood that is extracted
from the blood of an umbilical cord of a new born baby. The stem cells are
then frozen for the futures use for the child or by a family member. The
third and most recently discovered source is adult stem cells, or induced
pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Adult bone marrow or blood cells can be
artificially induced back into unprogrammed cells and then can be used as
stem cells to form other somatic cell lines, such as nerves and muscle
cells.

Stem cells have the scope to help scientists understand how diseases
come to rise and could potentially also help them find a cure. This is
done by scientists spectating stem cells slowly converting into new cells
with a new function, such as becoming a heart cell, muscle cell, or even
becoming an organ. They then can observe how diseases and such

Hamza AlHaddad DP-1


affect these cells, and could potentially come up with a cure. They also
have the ability to generate healthy cells to replace damaged cells.
Stem cells can be directed into becoming cells with a specialized
function that can be used to repair damaged tissues and cells in our
bodies.
One of the biggest difficulties that scientists continue to encounter
within the field of stem cells is actually identifying stem cells in our
body, as they are very scarce and are limited. In addition,
researchers must also use the correct laboratory solution, to coax
the growth and this has proven to be difficult. Another ethical issues
for stem cells is, immunological rejection is a major obstacle to a
successful stem cell transplant. When a patients immune system
sees a stem cell, there is a possibility that the patients immune
system will identify it as foregin pathogen and will then direct the
anti-bodies to begin attacking the stem cell. Patients who under go
stem cell transplant surgery must take immunosupressive drugs
which leaves the patients immune system vulnerable to many
diseases and this is seen to be fatal, as the patients immune system
would not be able to combat the disease within the body.
Sources:
http://www.explorestemcells.co.uk/challengesofstemcelltherapy.html
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/stem_cell/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell