Friday, January 29, 2010

New Scientist: Stem cell debut set for 2010

Stem cells. You've probably heard about them sometime or another. It is one of the most controversially discussed topics in recent years. It's protests range from religious to ethical grounds. Should stem cells grown from human embryonic stem cells be used to cure various diseases by producing new tissue in dead cells? I was quite divided over the topic, what with all the pro's and con's flying about. This article however has completely refreshed my mind when it comes to the possibilities of stem cells.
"Human embryonic stem cells are unique in their ability to grow into all 200 types of human tissue."
There have been many hurdles in the progress of stem cell research mostly due to cut funds, though most developed countries continue to have their program up and running. The most dire problem with inserting stem cells into a human body is it's unpredictable versatility.

If a few hESC's (stem cells) failed to differenciate between the desired tissue and healthy tissues the cell may disrupt the body's processes and even cause cancer.
Quite recently the FDA ( U.S. Food and Drug Administration) won the approval of using stem cells to treat rare eye conditions, spinal cord injuries, diabetes (by turning stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells), heart and coronary artery problems and even to produce new skin for people with burns and scars.
All these disease and injuries could be cured in an instant with stem cells. Although some of these treatments are still to be perfected and approved some have already been tested on human subjects with progressive results such as in Advance Cell Technology of Worchester, Massachussets.
However in matters as dangerous and sensitive as these safety is of the utmost importance.
"Safety issues, while still there, are tractable." Alan Colman, Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore
25 November 2009 by  Andy Coghlan
Magazine issue 2736.