The Remarkable Stem Cell


Imagine what it would be like to be able to regrow your finger that got chopped off while cutting that pesky green pepper. Well, stem cells have a similar purpose and may be able to be used for this purpose later on. (1) A stem cell is a cell, given a certain series of instructions, can grow into a certain part of the body based on the category if fits into; totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent. A totipotent cell is capable of developing into just about anything. A pluripotent cell is capable of developing into any type of cell. Lastly, a multipotent cell is capable of developing into the cells they are from, i.e. a liver.

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Figure 1-A

Stem cells function in multiple ways throughout the human body. First they are capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue or organ specific cells with special functions. For example, in some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. Except in other organs, such as the pancreas or the heart, stem cells will only divide under special conditions.

Stem cells can be used in a variety of ways in biotechnology and medicine. (2) The three major types are: Embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and adult stem cells. The first one, the Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) cells have unlimited potential to produce specialized cells of the body, which suggests enormous possibilities for disease research and for providing new therapies. Human ESCs were first grown in the lab in 1998. Recently, human ESCs that meet the strict quality requirements for use in patients have been produced. These ‘clinical grade’ human ESCs have been approved for use in a very small number of early clinical trials. One example is a clinical trial carried out by The London Project to Cure Blindness, using ESCs to produce a particular type of eye cell for treatment of patients with age-related macular degeneration.

Another type is the induced pluripotent stem cell. A relatively recent breakthrough in stem cell research is the discovery that specialized adult cells can be ‘reprogrammed’ into cells that behave like embryonic stem cells, termed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The generation of iPSCs has huge implications for disease research and drug development. For example, researchers have generated brain cells from iPSCs made from skin samples belonging to patients with neurological disorders such as Down’s syndrome or Parkinson’s disease. (3)These lab-grown brain cells show signs of the patients’ diseases. This has implications for understanding how the diseases actually happen – researchers can watch the process in a dish – and for searching for and testing new drugs. Such studies give a taste of the wide range of disease research being carried out around the world using iPSCs.

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Figure 2-A

An adult stem cell is thought to be an undifferentiated cell, found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ that can renew or repair itself and can change to yield some or all of the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ. The primary roles of adult stem cells in a living organism are mainly to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. Scientists have been testing to see if taking the cells of a particular organ or tissue from an animal and transplanting them back into a different animal to determine whether the cells replace their tissue of origin.

I say yes to the research and experimentations involving the use of stem cells. First off, stem cells have the amazing and remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Second, Adult stem cell transplants (bone marrow transplants) have been used for over 40 years in successfully treating cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and lymphomas, and research has now opened the doors to regenerative and reparative therapeutics. Lastly, I actually say no to the research of this, stem cell research holds the key to reversing the effects of aging and prolonging our lives. Stem cell research has already found many treatments that help slow the aging process, and a pro to further stem cell research is a possible “cure” for aging altogether.

For my first opinion, because of the amazing potential that stem cells hold to develop into many different types of cells throughout the body, stem cells can be guided into becoming specific cells that can be used to regenerate and repair diseased or damaged cells in people. This can also help heal damaged livers, kidneys, and intestines plus more other major organs.

For my second topic, stem cell transplants have been used for over 40 years in successfully treating cancers including leukemia, multiple myeloma and lymphomas, and research has now opened the doors to regenerative and reparative therapeutics. How would you or someone you know feel, knowing that their stomach cancer, liver cirrhosis, or brain tumor could be cured through stem cell transplant? Stem cell research for curing cancers could help save loved ones, friends, family, and even yourself.

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For my third topic, I had previously stated no to the research of that certain topic. I feel that living for ages would get old, exhausting, and eventually leave to boredom. The only way you could die would be by suicide, murder, or instantaneous death which, to me, these sound like some obtuse ways to die. Scientists have been studying ways to delve into the cell life figure out the keys to unlocking the pathway to immortality. They have found that when a cell makes the decision to become somatic or relating to the body or mind, they turn off an enzyme that synthesizes a repetition of sequences of DNA over and over again, which could allow the possibility of immortality.

In conclusion, I am for the research of stem cells if it used to regenerate and repair diseased and/or damaged cells on organs and tissues or for transplants for treating cancers or replacing bone marrow. I am against stem cell research if used to prolong life or to cause immortality.