From Flowers to Fighters: A Modern Day Introspection on the Power of Stem Cells

Stem cells are often overlooked in our day to day life, they help us replenish and fix damaged or missing cells within our body day in and day out. So why not pay more attention to them? In order to do so, we first have to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they actually accomplish. By understanding the basics, one can comprehend the importance of these cells, and how exactly they go from cells who help other cells, to cells that help fight cancer, and other strenuous diseases.

“Stem Cells originate from embryos human embryos that are just a few days old, Cells from these embryos can be used to create pluripotent stem cell “lines” —cell cultures that can be grown,” stated by the National Institutes of Health. Since these embryotic cells are pluripotent, they have the ability to re-new themselves by cell division— effectively creating identical copies of themselves. These pluripotent cells now have the ability to take on the shape, design, and occupation of any other living cell in the body. These IPS cells, or induced pluripotent cells, coming from stomach cells, liver cells, or other cells coming from the body can be used in stem cell-renewal. Stem cells ideally can help take the place of any damaged cell, re-programming them to act as if they were brand new. This process would be identified as cloning. Dangerous, and must be taken into ethical consideration, scientist have been trying to devise ways to effectively, and efficiently use these cells to help renew certain aspects of the cell, in order to create cures for certain diseases like cancer, and diabetes. One of the major problems being that deriving adequate clones, for these damaged cells is a long and thoughtful process that requires the use of an unfertilized human egg.

Cancerous stem cells, like stem cells, can self-renew which is primarily a big part of the issue. Cancer cells continue to grow rapidly and continuously, they do not stop growing and dividing—even when a maximum amount of cells is reached.

However as of now scientist have theorized that using T-cells—white blood cells, and other naturally occurring immune defenses can fight the formation of tumors in the body, as a result, limiting the effects of cancer, or diminishing cancer overall. However, one major problem with this theory is that, those T-cells, whose job is to kill cancer cells, might kill healthy cells as well because of the inability of the cells to differentiate between healthy cells, and cancerous ones. Nevertheless, scientist have looked into the repercussions of the issue and furthered the experiment anyway. The scientist fist captured a small sample of healthy white blood cells, next reprogramming them into the IPS cells, so that those stem cells could take on the characteristics of the healthy T-cells. The newly altered stem cells now had those immune defense genes, (containing a receptor) that could now suppress tumor growth and cancer population. Although this might be a sufficient way to fight cancer, still today, scientists are still looking for different methods and cures to end this lethal disease.

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Biology Teacher

This entry was written by Charmaine E. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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