Hope in a cell…

The medical field is in itself hope.

Each new advance in the sciences of medicine bring hope to the generations of mankind.

The most recent advances on a small set of molecules gives infinite possiblities for hope. These small sets of molecules have numerous possiblities to help mankind, infinite ways they can develop and prosper. These groups of molecules have a name, they are called stem cells.

Stem cells appear to be the elixer of life. They are simple cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of cells during their early life and growth, causing them to be called pluripotent cells. When these stem cells divide they can either remain stem cells or become specialized cells. There are two different kinds of human stem cell; adult stem cells found in the spinal colemn and human embryonic stem cells. The latter are one of the most controversial discoveries in the area of science. Adult stem cells do not have the potential to develop in to the multitude of cells that embryonic stem cells can. However, issues surround the ethics of harvesting human embryonic stem cells. The embryonic stem cells that are utilized in laboratories are derived from a five day preimplantation embryo, the blastocyst. A preimplantation embryo is an embryo that has not yet been implanted onto the wall of the uterus. These unique cells are capable of dividing without differentiating for a prolonged period in cultures and are known to develop into the cells and tissues of the three primary germ layers in an embryo.

Human embryonic stem cells are harvested from eggs fertilized in vitro at in vitro fertilization clinics, which are then donated to research. In Vitro fertilization is a technique that unites the gamete cells, the egg and sperm, in a laboratory rather than in a human host. These cells are then grown in cell cultures. The top layer of the culture dish is often coated with mouse embryonic stem cells that act as feeder cells and provide nourishment to the human embryonic stem cells. At this point these cells have the potential to develop into any tissue of the human body. Specific cells or tissues can be generated by turning on or off specific genes in the cells by the aid of enzymes and proteins that bind to promoter sites on transcribed DNA, mRNA, that allows for gene experession, usually by access to enzymes such as RNA polymerase.

Stem cells offer great potential for many afflictions but are still relatively unresearched. In order for stem cells to be used in potential cell based therapies, the cells must undergo rigorous testing. It must be determined if the cells can differentiate into the desired way, function appropriately, survive and integrate in recipients after transplant, as well as not harm the patient.

Stem cells are controversial because there is not a clear line drawn between whether or not a preimplanted embryo is “human”.

Many involved in the concerns regarding stem cells have agreed that preimplanted embryos are not humans but are potential humans. Though the main question surrounding the cells remains. In essence should a potential life be taken in order to save that of an already existing life?

Despite the issues surrounding the human embryonic stem cells. These cells have an immense future in the medical field. Personally I see these cells as having unique healing qualities. These cells bring only hope for the future.

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1 Comment

  1. Micki your blog entry is great, I love how you tied in the sense of the word hope with the modern day inovations in medicine. I also agree with your idea of this sense of hope in medicine because it is a way in which lives can be saved. Your pictures and video were also very helpful in understanding the concept that you are talking about.


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