Stem cells are used every day throughout the United States to help cure diseases and save lives. Stem cells can also be used to study labor defects so that future birth deficiencies can be prevented or reversed. Although as a college student starting a family may not be on your mind yet, it is always beneficial to educate yourself on current trends and new discoveries in stem cell research.
Andres Travino and his wife were excited when their son Andy was born ten years ago. Andy prayed and hoped for a healthy baby despite the fact that his wife was a carrier of a genetic gene called NEMO, which caused the immune system to fail. Unfortunately soon after their son was born he was diagnosed with NEMO. They did not know what to do and temporarily began to lose hope. They took several trips to the doctor’s office when finally a doctor suggested bone marrow stem cell transplant to substitute parts of his immune system that would help him fight infections. However, the success rate for the procedure depended on the compatibility of the donor; and after searching for two long years they could not find a match. Finally they decided to have another child so that they could use the cells from her umbilical cord to cure their son. In the beginning the treatment was not working but after a few more cells were transplanted Andy was cured.
The coordinators of Stem Cell basics explain that, “Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth” (par. 1). When a stem cell splits it can stay a stem cell or become a specific cell, such as a brain cell or muscle cell. A stem cell can also divide to restore and exchange out damaged tissues. “Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease” (Stem Cell Basics).
There are several types of stem cells. One type is the adult stem cell. “Adult stem cells are tissue-specific, meaning they are found in a given tissue in our bodies and generate the mature cell types within that particular tissue or organ” (Gage). They are bone marrow or cord blood stem cell transplants that are used to treat diseases of the blood or to repair the blood system after treatment for certain cancers. An additional type of adult stem cell is the mesenchymal stem cell. “These are found in a number of tissues, including bone marrow, and may be able to produce bone, cartilage and fat. It is also possible that these or similar cells may aid in the regeneration of tissues” (Gage).
An alternative stem cell is the embryotic stem cell. Fred Gage states, “Embryonic stem cells are derived from very early embryos and can in theory give rise to all cell types in the body” (par. 4). Unfortunately embryonic stem cells have the capability of transforming into cancerous tissue after being transplanted. Alice Parks, the medicine reporter for Times Magazine, states, “Embryonic stem cells are known for...