3 Reasons Why Stem Cells Are Important To The Body
Stem cells are essential from the very beginning of human development. Human embryonic stem cells can make any other cell in the body and are found in early human embryos, known as blastocysts. The blastocyst is made of two types of cells that form either embryo or the placenta. These few cells that make up this early stage of human development differentiate into every single cell in the human body. Besides being essential for human development, the pluripotency of these embryonic stem cells also make them interesting for their potential in regenerative medicine. Many studies have been performed to determine if these cells could replace damaged or dead cells in adult humans to treat disease. However, the use of embryonic stem cells is a controversial issue, and science has since found ways to isolate stem cells from adults to avoid this issue.
Replace damaged cells in the body
The defining property of stem cells is that they can continuously divide into new stem cells or differentiate into various types of specific cell types in the body. This gives them the potential to replace damaged or dead cells that occur after injury or disease using stem cell treatments. The best example of this is in the case of cancer patients. High doses of chemotherapy are often used to kill cancer cells in the body. However, these doses of chemotherapy also kill the patient’s existing blood cells and bone marrow. In order to replenish these cells in the patient, the patients are given a bone marrow, or stem cell, transplant. Bone marrow contains stem cells that differentiate into all the different types of functional blood cells, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, which carry oxygen through the body, help fight infections and help control bleeding, respectively.
Stem cells from bone marrow and peripheral blood have been used in clinical therapies to help replace damaged tissue. For example, scientists have used adult stem cells from hair follicles to grow skin grafts in culture. Clinical trials are also underway to study the use of stem cells in neuronal damage and disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Side effects have been observed in these studies, however, and further investigation is required before these therapies could be widely used in a clinical setting. Due to a stem cell’s ability to differentiate into many different cell types, there is great potential for their use to treat many different types of diseases. There is even hope that stem cells could be used to create whole new organs for the use in transplant someday.
Stem cell therapy is exciting and holds great potential for the treatment and possible cure for numerous human diseases. Stem cell research continues to advance knowledge regarding organism development from a single cell and how these cells replace damaged cells in an adult. A greater understanding of their role in human development and repair could lead to more cell based therapies in the future.