Stem cells research has garnered much attention in recent years.
Scientists across the globe have focused on them for a multitude of reasons : to better understand disease processes, to contribute to regenerative medicine, and to test the efficacy and safety of new drugs. Stem cells are powerful because they have the ability to become any cell. Other cells in the human body, such as blood cells, lack this power.
Researchers at UCLA have shown that stem cells can be used to grow functioning cardiac cells. This has the potential to help those with underlying heart issues that may not have responded to other treatment, or have been deemed “incurable.” In fact, a study showed that stem cells could be used to improve outcomes in individuals living with heart failure. Another stem cells research finding demonstrated their potential to help those with Type 1 diabetes. Scientists in this study were able to reproduce insulin – secreting cells from cells derived from the Type 1 diabetes patients in the study. Research is currently underway in using stem cells to create new cancer drugs.
Stem cells are becoming more accessible outside of the laboratory, as well. An estimated 570 clinics in the United States offer stem cell therapy, to help individuals with a variety of issues like cancer and sports – related injuries. New parents can also opt for their doctor to save their newborn’s umbilical cord blood. This can be used for future purposes in case the child should need the stem cells. The FDA has approved the aforementioned treatments and actions. However, it urges caution, warning individuals to not engage in any unproven treatments. as only a small amount of stem cell therapies have entered the first phases of a clinical trial.
Despite these promises, stem cells have not evaded controversy . Initially, the use of embryonic cells in medical research was opposed by many. In 2001, former U.S. P resident, George W. Bush banned government funding of human stem cell research. The rationale behind this was that stem cells are derived from unborn babies, thus colliding with anti – abortion views. This ban was later reversed. Although this practice of directly using emrbyonic cells is largely obsolete, there remains a concern over using adult cells without proper consent. Furthermore, some researchers worry that manipulating cells that are used in stem cell therapy could lead to cancerous growths.
Regardless of these qualms, it looks as if stem cells are here to stay. With increasing lifespan and higher incidences of lifestyle – related diseases, their need will only increase. The disease burden on current global healthcare systems is keeping many individuals sick, unable to enjoy a full quality of life. If stem cells can alleviate these issues, the impact on the world economy and individual satisfaction could be unprecetended. But only time will reveal their full potential. Stem cells research is currently being conducted on a wider range of conditions , and depending on their efficacy, they may be able to help those living with autoimmune diseases, organ transplants, neurological conditions, and arthritis