Thursday, December 6, 2012

Have we already found the cure to cancer?

Stem cells have been covered all over the news with it becoming more of an issue nationally.  What are stem cells though?  Most believe it to be embryonic stem cells in which a female egg is combined with a male sperm cell in order to create a cell that could reproduce into any other human cell.  However, stem cells don't have to be embryonic and could actually come from adults or other organisms.  Even with methods being developed for these stem cells, only time will tell what the future for stem cells will be.

Stem cells are proving to be more beneficial then previously thought.

More and more research everyday from labs across the world are proving just how valuable stem cells can be.  We have been able to treat heart attacks, treat diseases, and even start to help mentally disabled people.  Over in Britain, The Daily Mail reports how doctors are testing a new technique that helps patients who suffer from heart attacks to recover faster and prevent any future attacks or failures
However, the question isn't what have we done so far, but what can we do in the future that will help all of us.  Within our lifetime we could be able to cure cancer, grow limbs for amputees, and even attempt to create life for parents who are unable to conceive.

Leading experts express enthusiasms for stem cells that could go beyond helping out diseases.

Experts and researchers are repeatedly showing how stem cells are improving everyday life.  Although there is more work to be done on this, it's looking very optimistic for the future.  Dr. Carol Keefer, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Maryland College Park, says that with new advancements in technology stem cell research could go beyond just helping out humans.  Being able to modify genes and DNA of different animals, we could make them more resistent to diseases and be able to produce more milk or eggs.  Even though we have these opportunities with animals, studies are being conducted on plant stem cells that show their usefulness as well.  Using plant stem cells has a major impact on science because it could help with anti-aging as well as skin care benefits.  This has benefits with the economy and helping farmers have a steady foothold in today's rough economy.

Even though there are some amazing prospects for different stem cell research, there are a couple of consequences for stem cell research.  One of which being the testing of stem cells on humans and not knowing the affects it can have on them.  A way that researchers get around this issue is that they do extensive testing on mice and rats.  Because of their quick reproduction rates and similarities to the human genome, mice and rats are reliable resources when testing the effects of stem cells.

What does the public think of stem cells.

Although there has been a lot of progress for stem cell research, the public has split opinions on this case.  Some think that it is not morally right to fuse together an egg and sperm cell together and use it for scientific research research.  Others believe that it is perfectly fine, since the cell hasn't fully developed.  However, as Dr. Keefer points out, stem cells are not just an egg and sperm cell being fused together then destroyed.  Stem cells can come from adult or animal bone marrows this causes great confusion because most people believe it stem cell research is only performed on embryonic cells.  They can also come plants as previously discussed.  Although there are many different opinions out there, one point that nobody can dispute is how it is helping people live their lives when it is administered to people who have no other hope.

In order to get a different perspective of the situation, Akshay Kolluri, an undergraduate student at College Park, gave his opinion on stem cell research and the future of it.

So what will happen next?

Although there is a lot of speculation on what the future of stem cells will be, one can be sure that with increasing awareness and growing support for it, we might one day see the full potential of what stem cells can do.  Could we possibly see cows make more milk with heat resistant qualities that could prevent spoiling or chickens laying more eggs with less cholesterol in them? Or possibly curing heart and lung disease or preventing future generations from contracting different forms of cancer? Even though we cannot see into what the future will hold, we can say that the possibilities of stem cells are almost limitless.

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