In our society, new medical technology is constantly being developed to detect, treat, and heal diseases, with many of them being successful. However, what about the diseases that have no current cure? Billions of dollars are spent on research for terminal diseases such as cancer, nervous system disorders, heart disorders, etc., yet there never seems to be a definite cure for these diseases. Undoubtedly, many people have heard of stem cells, which are cells found in the human body that have the ability to derive, self-renew, differentiate, and amplify into new, healthy, unspecialized cells, such as nerve, cardiac, liver, and blood cells.1 These cells could have the capacity to heal many diseases that currently have no known cure; however, many different reasons such as ethics, morality, and risks impede our society from benefiting from them. Furthermore, stem cell research and treatment should be implemented, since they have great potential to cure diseases such as cancer, nervous system disorders, heart disease, and diabetes mellitus. 2,3
Stem cell research began in 1981 when scientists were able to derive embryonic stem cells from a laboratory mouse.4 Seventeen years later, after critically studying these findings from the mouse, scientists were able to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in the laboratory.4 A most important discovery in 2006 occurred, which was the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells.4 During this discovery, scientists found a way to program adult cells into an unspecialized stem cell.4
Moreover, this leads to the discussion of these different types of stem cells. First, there are adult stem cells, or "somatic stem cells". These cells are present in mature body tissues, undifferentiated, and have the ability to replace lost or damaged cells.1,4,5 Adult stem cells can exist in organs and tissues, such as the heart, blood vessels, brain, and skeletal muscle.3 However, using adult stem cells is not the best option, since they are known to have limited potential for self renewal and are only able to generate into the types of cells in which they reside.1,5 For example, if the stem cell is found in the heart, it is only able to derive into another heart cell. Right now, the only success for adult stem cell transplant has been for leukemia.3 So far, there are five known types of adult stem cells which include Hematopoietic Stem Cells (blood stem cells that are most commonly used), Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Neural Stem Cells, Epithelial Stem Cells, and Skin Stem Cells.
The second major type of stem cell is embryonic stem cells. When the embryo is in the blastocyst stage, which occurs 3-5 days after fertilization, it contains a mass in the inner cell that can produce all of the tissues that are in the human body.4,6 Embryonic stem cells are created through in-vitro fertilization; therefore, they are being created outside the human with informed consent.4,6 Additionally, these stem cells have the...