New breakthrough in Stem Cell Research
January 8, 2007 12:08pm CST
Apparently, there are tons of stem cells in amniotic fluid. This fluid can be obtained throug amnio and poses no danger to the unborn child. Yes, there is always a risk with doing an amnio of a spontaneous abortion, but still, most women are now urged to undergo an amnio. This may be the middle ground we all need to actually get some science done that will help people.
8 Jan 07
Amniocentesis has indeed a small, but not insignificant, risk for the foetus, but is perfectly safe for the mother. Most pregnant women after the age of 30 are advised to have one, as the risk for a baby with Down's syndrome increases with age. Yes, embryonic stem cells (not to be confused with the adult stem cells) can be sampled and used later in the lab, where differentiation can artificially be made. Therapeutically, they have an enormous potential value, although the treatments currently available are not very cost-effective. However, the sampling of those cells require the destruction of the embryo and therefore pose an ethical problem due to the fact that, even condemned (the sampling is done on embryos that are any going to abort/die), the cells represent a potential human being. A lot of pressure groups invoke the dignity of the human being, even if it's only an embryo, as a reason not to perform this pratice. I personally think that it can save lives and makes other ones better, like in the case of certain cancers or Parkinson's disease. It may be a human embryo considered here, but it's going to die anyway, so it may as well be 'useful' for those who really need it. Thanks for a very interesting topic! :)
14 Jan 07
Stem cells are basically cells that can multiply and develop into any type of body cells you want, given the right environmental conditions and stimuli.. Stem cell research involves how one can make use of these cells for various medical applications. Work is progressing on growing fully developed body organs from the stem cells which can be used for transplantation. There won't be any risk of rejection, because if your own stem cells are used for growing a kidney or liver for you, they will be your own kidney/liver right down to the smallest cell. Skin, blood, bones, anything can possibly be grown, though this is mostly theory, and the "research" involves converting this theory into feasible practice. Two different types of stem cells are embryonic stem cells (for which someone's embryo is taken, and its DNA replaced with yours) and stem cells from umbical chord (unfortunately available only at the time of u'r birth). Embryonic stem cells are kind of controversial, because some believe that you are killing a life by playing with the embryo. Stem cells are primal cells common to all multicellular organisms. To be a stem cell it has to possess 2 qualities. 1. the ability to go through numerous cell divisions while remaining unchanged. 2. the ability to change into any mature cell type Embryonic stem cells have gotten the most publicity lately because of the controversy over using human embryos, but there are also adult stem cells that can be found in various parts of the body. As for the research, scientist believe that because stem cells are in one way unchanging and in another way can change into any other cell in the body, given enough time they will be able to use them to cure everything from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's to Cancer, and every other genetic disorder between.
8 Jan 07
This is a very good discussion, Glad to see science prevailing here. Stem cells are absolutely necessary for further progression in medicine. With Stem Cell technology in our hands quality and life expectancy will increase dramatically. I believe that an amnio is a worth while risk to harness these cells. Even more recently in the UK researchist have discovered that we can hybridise animal stem cells with our own and it would have the same effect. However this caused a huge uproar and the research center has been told to end all experiments. A massive field of research and work will be lost due to silly morals... ugh why is science surrounded in ignorance!