Unfortunately, these undifferentiated cells cannot be harvested or removed from an adult because an adult's cells have already matured.
Once matured, cells can't be overwritten to become another type of cell. but, embryonic cells are technically at a stage of growth where they are clearly cells but they have not yet reached a stage of becoming a specialized cell. Therefore, the stem cells can still be rewritten or redirected so to speak to become whatever type of specialized cell needed in a human body. In theory, stem cells would function as replacement parts for the body just like an automobile getting a new bumper after a fender bender.
The really great news regarding this technology is that undifferentiated embryonic stem cells have been proven to proliferate indefinitely in controlled cultures. As the world grasps the concept of finite resources such as oil and gold, this type of undifferentiated cell has the potential to provide an unlimited source of any specific adult cell needed to replace anything from a bone to a new white blood cell.
Potential of Stem Cell Research
In the emerging field of stem cell research, real uses and products may still be a long way from being actualized or commercialized, but the potential is huge. Stem Cells were so named because, like the branches or stems of a tree, they had the ability branch out to reach new things. A stem cell literally has the potential to alter what it could be because it is still undifferentiated.
Of course, the theories are not yet in development and the overall concepts are still in the very early stages of research. Success of this new technology is currently just pure speculation. However, scientists in the field feel that the potential uses for stem cell theory is more than obvious. Because the market potential for stem cell therapies products is extremely large, there is already great media hype and political jockeying in progress surrounding the technology.
The first potential applications of human embryonic stem cell technology may be in the area of drug discovery. The ability to grow pure populations of specific cell types offers a proving ground for chemical compounds that may have medical importance." (Five Years Later, Stem Cells Still Tantalize) This area of research could potentially reduce pharmaceutical research and development costs substantially. Knowing, for example, that a particular new drug kills liver cells without having to actually put the new drug into a human test subject's liver is amazing at least and life saving at best.
The potential to treat specific cells outside of the human body first and then having the ability to systematically measure a response first and then only administer successful trials creates an opportunity to reduce trial times which in turn could bring new medicines to market faster. Stem cell technology could therefore be the new methodology used to screen any number of chemical compounds and the reaction of the specific human cell.
Another potential use is the study of human development and the associated prevention of birth defects. As the medical community understands the earliest stages of cell development, embryonic stem cells also provide insights into human developmental. The events that occur during the initial stages of development will give the medical community new weapons to use in the elimination of birth defects, infertility and even pregnancy miscarriages.
The newly found ability to cultivate human tissue will create new potential cures for burn victims as new skin tissue could be artificially created through the use of stem cells. Other diseases and transplantations could simply reproduce the damaged or missing tissue. "For example, diseases like juvenile onset diabetes mellitus and Parkinson's disease occur because of defects in one of just a few cells types. Replacing faulty cells with healthy ones offers hope of lifelong treatment." (Five Years Later, Stem Cells Still Tantalize)
The same potential in theory could apply when doctors needed to replace a damaged heart or any other organ. Veterinary use has shown that the possibilities should work in humans. "Although stem cells are being tested for nearly every disease and injury imaginable, we only address applications that are well documented such as injured tendons, ligaments, and bone. Typical uses are a strain or tear of the suspensory ligament, a bowed tendon, or fracture repair." (Stem Cell Services)
The future of the technology seems clear. The majority of the biological community concur that stem cell technology has great potential. Scientists have never before found cells with the biological potential that embryonic stem cells have shown. "They can morph into any one of the 220 types of cells and tissues in the human body. Nurtured in their undifferentiated state, they can proliferate endlessly in culture, and provide a vast supply of cells for research and, someday, therapy." (Five Years Later, Stem Cells Still Tantalize) recent advance in stem cell technology has created one of the broadest technology platforms in the history of biotechnology. The advance called Nuclear transfer is a process where the body cell is moved into a cell where all DNA has been removed. The potential of this new advance provides a way to reprogram cells into the egg cell, or in other words change the cell from what it was, for instance a bone-marrow cell, into an undifferentiated embryonic cell. This technique therefore creates a situation where a cell can become any cell type.
In effect, this is a type of cloning because if this type of embryonic cell was placed in a female uterus, the cell would literally grow like any normal embryo and eventually become a clone of the original. So stem cell research in the future also has the potential of full reproductive cloning. The choice of course would be to place the egg in a uterus or a Petri dish.
With all of these great potential positive health solutions, how could there be such a controversy regarding stem cell regenerative medicine? In the United States, the problem goes back to constitutional items such as Roe v. Wade and a woman's ability to choose to have abortions, and the definition of when human life begins. The true cause of the controversy therefore is the fact that the procedure requires embryonic stem cells. The issue is that many here in the United States and in some parts of the world feel that once a human egg becomes fertilized, that egg is now considered a human being and it as a human being should be protected by the all of the rights and interests that we as adults are protected with. Simply put, those who oppose stem cell research are against fetuses and fertilized eggs being used for scientific research purposes. and, as has been demonstrated by the radicalism of some anti-abortion groups for example, they will go to any lengths be it legal or illegal to get their message across.
Those who support stem cell research contend that fertilized eggs that are donated with the full consent of couples no longer using the eggs that would have be discarded anyway do not need protection. The argument is that those eggs would not have become humans once discarded. It is important to note that at this time; only already fertilized eggs that were in vitro clinics are being utilized in stem cell research. but, as with any social, political or religious moral and ethical issue, the controversy on whether stem cell research violates human rights or creates opportunities for new medical breakthroughs will most likely continue for a long time.
The problem in the United States is that at the very least, for the advancements to occur in regard to Stem Cell technology and research, an insistent federal program will be required so the full potential of stem cell research can be obtained. However, as of today, there is limited federal funding and support due to the moral issues that exist.
The Stem Cell research industry in the United States as opposed to international competition is working on a compromise of sorts. Existing reserves of fertilized eggs will be allowed to be used but no new fertilized eggs can be created for the purpose of advancing this technology.
The current administration is side stepped the existing dilemma. "And he said the president's recent decision to use the existing cell lines was a political cop-out. "He found it immoral to destroy a human embryo to create stem cell lines yet in the case where there's a human who's committed a heinous crime, he'll take their life," Trosko said, referring to Bush's capital punishment record as governor of Texas." (Hughes) They have agreed to allow existing fertilized eggs to be used for research but have said no to any new sources of fertilized eggs. In effect, this stops the stem cell research process cold.
Advocates for government spending on embryonic stem cells are running scared with…