Adult Stem Cells
A considerable amount of controversy has arisen surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells to treat various conditions and diseases. This moral and ethical question may be avoided through the use of adult stem cells. However, some of us are unfamiliar with the benefits of these cells and why their adult counterparts may present an ideal option. It is a good idea to take a more in-depth look at both of these topics.
How do Adult Stem Cells Work?
Like embryonic stem cells, adult cells are not specialised. In other words, they have not formed one type of cell or another. This will allow them to differentiate later in their lifespan. By placing them into certain areas of the body, cells which are damaged or not present may be able to be regenerated.
Where are they Found?
Stem cells are found within a variety of locations throughout the body. Some of the most common areas where they are harvested include:
- The skin.
- Bone marrow.
- Blood vessels.
- Skeletal muscle.
- The liver.
Obtaining these cells from an adult poses little risk to the donor. The body will simply replace them with new ones.
Why do Some Consider Them to be Better Choices?
Recently, scientists have found that (as opposed to embryonic stem cells), adult cells have more tissues. So, a greater number can be harvested and transplanted. In fact, this has already been done for decades to treat those with bone marrow disorders. Obviously, the other main benefit is that a great deal of controversy can be avoided if embryonic cells are not employed for this purpose. Finally, an adult will give his or her informed consent for such cells to be taken.
One of the challenges which needs to be solved is that they will not renew as quickly as embryonic cells. As these cells are also substantially “older”, there could also be abnormalities present within the DNA that may not be present in “younger” versions.
While adult stem cells seem to offer an excellent alternative, there are still a number of practical concerns that need to be addressed. It is hoped that further research will shed light upon their uses for various medical conditions.
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