Stem cell research is a growing field and it has brought major changes to the medical field, and could bring many more. There is no way to say at this point what all could be done with stem cells. The more research and the more technology just gives stem cell research an opening with no end. What is a stem cell? A stem cell is a cell that is undifferentiated, which means it can develop into any type of cell. There are three places stem cells can be obtained. They can be obtained from adult cells, bone marrow cells, and embryonic cells. According to the article on the website for The National Institute of Health on Stem Cell Research, stem cell research has been going on since the 1950’s (http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics4.asp). There are billions of dollars being poured into stem cell research, because of all the benefits that can be done with stem cells (http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org/pros-and-cons-of-stem-cell-research.htm).
The first type of stem cell is the adult stem cell, which comes from individual’s bone marrow or the peripheral system (http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org/pros-and-cons-of-stem-cell-research.htm). Stem cells are undifferentiated and this allows them to grow into differentiated cell to be used wherever they are needed. Stem cell treatment has been used in treating cancer, and other major diseases. Stem cells can replace damaged cells and this helps with the healing process and in some cases the patient has even been cured of the disease, which is why the research with stem cells is so aggressive. Researchers have found that adult stem cells can be taken from many parts of the human body. Also with adult cells they are an exact match to the patient’s DNA, therefore the body’s immune system accepts them rather than rejecting them. If a patient receives stem cells from someone else there is the possibility the body will reject them because the DNA does not match the patient.
The second type of stem cell comes from bone marrow. Although extracting bone marrow stem cells results in some painful destruction of bone marrow, it is rich with stem cells. Obtaining stem cells from the peripheral system does not damage the bone; however it does take longer to obtain the stem cells. In many cases time is an important factor which is why more adult stem cells are used rather than peripheral stem cells.
The third type of stem cell is embryonic stem cells, and this is where the ethical concerns come in to play. The embryonic stem cells are extracted from an embryo before it has a chance to become differentiated. Although embryonic stem cells are some if the best stem cells to work with, because of where they come from, some people feel this crosses the line of ethics, because they feel the physicians are trying to play God. Physicians can also get stem cells from the umbilical cord. Some families have umbilical stem cells stored, just in case there is a need for them in the future.
Since stem cells can be used...