Interesting Facts About Stem Cell Research

A stem cell is essential a blank cell, one that is capable of being transformed into any other type of cell in the body. Stem cells are being researched as a way to create essential cells and organs for those in need. Due to the fact that stem cell research is fairly new, there are a few interesting facts about it that may not be known by the general public.

  1. Embryonic Stem Cells

    • Embryonic stem cells are obtained by harvesting cells from five- to seven-day-old living embryos. Unfortunately, the removal of cells from embryos at this stage in development leads to their eventual death. Embryonic stem cells have the potential to turn into any type of cell, and have the potential to provide an endless supply of cells.

    Types

    • Contrary to popular opinion, stem cells can be obtained from a number of different locations, not just embryos. These regions include the umbilical cord, the placenta, amniotic fluid, adult tissues and organs, fat from liposuction, the nose and even from a body that has been deceased for less than 20 hours. Each type of stem cell provides its own unique scientific use.

    Legal Issues

    • Another misconception about stem cell research is that it is against the law. The truth is that there are no laws against destroying human embryos for research-based needs. The only true regulation in place is one that prevents the use of federal funds to support any type of stem cell research, a ban put in place by president George W. Bush. However, those with private funding are still allowed by law to continue conducting research.

    Cloning

    • Because of the stem cell's ability to transform into any other type of cell, much of stem cell research is directed towards human cloning. There are two types of human cloning: reproductive and therapeutic. Reproductive cloning is essentially cloning to produce children, while therapeutic cloning is used only for scientific research. While cloning to produce children is not yet possible, stem cell researchers hope that one day it will become a feasible option.

    Religious Considerations

    • Many people believe that some organized religions are against all types of stem cell research. However, there are four different categories of stem cell research (embryonic stem cell, embryonic germ cell, umbilical cord and adult) and some religious people, particularly Christians, are generally only opposed to one--embryonic stem cells.

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