The reason why stem cells are important can be found in what they can do for the body. The use of stem cells is limitless. Why are stem cells one of the most important breakthroughs in medical science today? In short, they can help naturally heal the body in many ways. Science continues to explore opportunities to use stem cells including both treatments and prevention of disease. Read on to learn more about why stem cells are so important today.
Why Stem Cells Are Important for Disease Treatments
In this article:
- Stem Cells Definition
- Where Are Stem Cells Found?
- What Are Stem Cells Used For?
- How Stem Cells Can Help a Person
- Why Are Stem Cells Controversial?
Stem Cells Definition
A stem cell is one that can develop into any other cell. Most cells in the body do not do this. They have one task. They have one ability to provide for the body. Stem cells are less specialized. They can divide and become just about any other part of the body.
The key difference is in the path stem cells take. Researchers call them undifferentiated cells. This means the cells have yet to determine which path they will take. Researchers can use them for a variety of needs. They are also known as unspecialized cells for the same reason.
An example of a stem cell is a zygote. It is a fertilized egg. The zygote is just a single cell. It occurs when a sperm and ovum come together. At this time, the cell does not have a specific path. Each component of it carries half of the genetic material necessary to grow into a new person. This stem cell changes once division happens. Like with all stem cells, division leads to action. In a zygote, when division happens, the cell is now an embryo. The new cells from the division are stem cells. Over time, they will become the various features and organs of the body. Yet, at this young age, they remain stem cells. They can do and become anything.
Where Are Stem Cells Found?
Stem cells occur in the body naturally. Adult stem cells lurk in various areas of the body. This includes in bone marrow. This is one of the largest sources of healthy stem cells in the body. They are also in the brain and the blood vessels. They are in the muscles, skin, and teeth. It is also possible to find them in the gut, heart, liver, and many of the tissues of the body. Fatty areas tend to store them as well.
Stem cells can also come from other sources. Doctors can extract them from embryos. Umbilical cords contain stem cells, too. They can develop them in research labs as well. A single stem cell can become many more in this way.
What Are Stem Cells Used For?
Stem cells have the unique ability to renew themselves. This can happen almost indefinitely. This process is essential. It allows for healthy, new stem cells to always be present.
Another important feature is their differentiation. As noted, stem cells can become any other cell. They can become specialized and functional cells. They will develop the characteristics and functions of the nearby cells. This allows the cells to do a wide range of tasks for the body.
Also important is their specialization. As unspecialized cells, they have a unique ability. They can help to create specialized cells. They help encourage nearby cells to become specialized cells. In other words, stem cells can become other stem cells. They can become specialized cells and, they can encourage other cells to divide.
How Stem Cells Can Help Individuals
There is a wide range of benefits of stem cells to individuals. New methods are becoming more widely available. This includes methods of accessing stem cells. There are a few things stem cells can do:
- They can renew themselves on an indefinite basis. This means they can continue to be available to the body. Stem cells grow into other cells. They are always available to help the body to heal.
- They help to detect birth defects. Science is also working on ways to use stem cells to prevent birth defects. This can happen because stem cells detect damaged tissue. They can help to “right” the development of tissue.
- Stem cells can heal damaged tissue. This includes tissues damaged by disease. Gastrointestinal diseases, for example, can see significant improvement.
- They improve quality of life. Injected into a specific area, stem cells go to work to heal that area. This can help reduce damaged tissue in knees. It can impact other joints. It can help the body to function at a higher level. In some cases, they can help improve mobility and help people with chronic pain.
Some of the uses of stem cells in medicine include chemotherapy and radiation assistance. Here, they help restore damaged tissue. They can help pinpoint the existence of cancer. Stem cells may help with spinal cord injuries as well as with diabetes. They could also help individuals with heart disease and may be able to reduce pain from arthritis. Some doctors are using them to restore vision after macular degeneration. They can help regrow skin after burns. They can help stroke victims see improvement. Additionally, there are few risks to using them. There are no side effects.
So, Why Are Stem Cells Controversial?
As you may know, there is some controversy surrounding stem cells. Most of it comes from a lack of understanding. Some people believe stem cells should not come from embryonic cells. There are ethics concerns here. As noted, embryos have a rich source of stem cells. Some believe researchers should not access those stem cells. Rather, they believe they should continue to develop into human life. Religious and ethical concerns are present in many cases.
Learning what stem cells can do may help in understanding why they are important in medicine. Watch this video to understand what these specials cells are capable of doing.
The benefits of stem cells make them a valuable resource in medicine. They can enhance the quality of life by helping people feel better and recover from illness and injury.
What are your questions about the use of stem cells in medicine? Ask them in the comments below.