My Favorite Cell: The Stem Cell
Stem cells are amazing cells that all humans possess throughout their bodies. In today’s world of science, stem cells have become important factors in scientific research. Research with stem cells has been increasing exponentially over the last decade. Around the world, stem cells have been studied to help treat various health problems. The extent to what stem cell research can do is very wide reaching. The existence of stem cells was theorized by Alexander Maximow in the late 1800s. He believed that cells originated from a one type of cell. He was not far off with this theory. (Potten C.S. 1997)
One of the facts that make stem cells so important and such a great asset to healthcare research is that stem cells are not differentiated. Within our bodies, the cells that make up our bodies are programmed to become all of the specific structures in our body such as blood cells or muscle cells. Stem cells do not have this intrinsic programming. They can therefore become any type of cell. When a sperm and egg combine to create a zygote, the zygote rapidly divides which will eventually develop into an embryo and, of course, eventually a human being. The cells that the zygote divides into are the first of these stem cells and develop into the cells that make up the body. When a baby is born, these excess stem cells are in the amniotic fluid and umbilical cord of the baby. However, stem cells still exist within adults, but are usually dormant for the rest of a person’s life. Stem cells remain spread around the tissues, muscles, bones, and blood. Although there is a lot that scientists do not know about stem cells, these stem cells can be activated by various factors like disease and can serve to replace damaged cells within the body. For example, within the bone marrow, stem cells exist that form the white blood cells that form the basis of the immune system. Another trait that makes stem cells invaluable is their ability to divide indefinitely. Most cells can only divide a certain number of times. Whenever cells divide, however, they lose a little more information until they can no longer function. Stem cells do not have his problem and can divide indefinitely like tumor cells. (Gearhart J., B. Hogan, D. Melton, ect. 2009)
The two types of stem cells are embryonic stem cells and the type of stem cells found throughout the human body. They are very similar, but have a notable difference. While stem cells are not differentiated, embryonic stem cells can more easily be manipulated within a lab than stem cells within adults. This is possibly because of the stem cells being older and most being dormant. The using of embryonic stem cells, however, is very controversial. Many people have moral qualms about using the stem cells from embryos. Many countries like Germany have banned the use of stem cells from embryos. Although it is not technically banned in the United States, there is a...