Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Stem Cells (Blog Post #2)
Potential uses for stem cells. (Blog post #2)
Firstly, studying the mechanisms and biology of stem cells can provided detailed information into how human development works. Understanding how undifferentiated cells can develop into all the different types of cells in the human body can provide information about certain diseases that occur from abnormal cell differentiation and division, such as cancer and birth defects. In addition, having a more complete understanding of these processes can lead to the development of better treatments and therapies for various diseases.
Human stem cells are also being used to test the effects of new drugs and pharmaceuticals. The cell lines that are grown from stem cells can be used to test specific activity of medications, such as testing a cancer cell line with an anti-tumor drug. The use of stem cells would allow for the testing of a vast variety of cell types and allow for the development of more efficient treatments and cures without risking the lives of test subjects. Of course, this process is not as easy as it seems. Scientists must be able to control the settings and conditions of the stem cells to be identical for each drug test; otherwise, the experiment becomes corrupted with other variables and can lead to inaccurate results. Lack of full understanding of certain cell pathways and mechanisms makes controlling every aspect of a cell’s components and environment a daunting task.
The most important application of stem cells is the potential to grow complete sets of tissues and organs in the laboratory from stem cells. While many people donate their organs after they die, the demand far outweighs the supply. In addition, the risk of rejection of the transplanted organ is a significant problem that many times creates an obstacle for helping patients who need the transplant. Thus, by utilizing the abilities of stem cells to differentiate into any type of cell, transplanting organs could become a widely available and safe procedure.
Link for this discussion:
National Institute of Health