STEM CELLSStem cells are unique cells which have the remarkable capacity of replicating rapidly and differentiating along different pathways in the body, during early life and growth. Stem cells are defined as the foundation each and every tissue and organ in the body. When a stem cell divides, the cell can either remain as a stem cell or it becomes a cell with a specialized function. In the process of healing the body, the introduction of new Stem cells play a huge role in generating treatments to many conditions (“About Stem Cells, 2018”) Such conditions include spinal cord injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or other neurological problems (“The Power of Stem Cells”, 2018) As said previously, cells are self-renewal (being able to divide and replicate) and potency (capable of differentiating into specialized cell types).
There are four types of stem cells at different human stages of development. They include: Totipotent (capable of forming any type of cell and extra embryonic tissue), Pluripotent (capable of forming any type of cell), Multipotent (capable of producing cells that are closely related) and Unipotent (cell that are self-renewal but cannot differentiate) (“Stem Cells | BioNinja”, 2018)Embryonic Stem cells are cells that exist in the early development stages. Embryonic cells are cells that are capable of becoming any cell that is located in the body because they are pluripotent. Embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos which develop from eggs and not eggs that are fertilized in a woman’s body. These eggs are fertilized in an In vitro fertilization clinic.
With consent from the donors, the embryos are donated for research purposes (“Stem Cell Basics III”, 2018) On the other hand Adult stem cells are limited to differentiate into other types of cells that are different to their tissue of origin. Hence, due to appearance during fetal development, the stem cells remain within our bodies throughout life. An example would be you can only make a muscle cell from the adult stem cell located in the muscle. Stem cells are suitable for therapeutic use because they can be accessed through three different ways. This includes Embryos, Placenta or Umbilical cord blood of a new baby, and bone marrow from a certain adult tissue. Secondly, embryonic stem cells are derived from the early stages of a developing embryo and they have the ability to differentiate into any type of body cell. Hence this allows for patients with diseases such as Leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes, Parapplegia, Burn victims, Stargardt’s disease to be treated (“Stem Cell Therapy | BioNinja”, 2018)Stargardt’s disease is caused by a gene mutation that impairs energy transport in retinal photoreceptor cells.
Stargardt’s disease is also known as fundus Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (SMD) or Stargardt macular dystrophy and fundus flavimaculatus (“Stargardt’s Disease (Fundus Flavimaculatus)”, 2018). The disease affects approximately one in 10,000 people between the ages of six and twenty. The disease is an inherited disease which causes the light-sensitive cells that are located in the retina to deteriorate. It is caused through gene mutation which impairs transportation of energy in the retinal photoreceptor cells (“Stem Cell Therapy | BioNinja”, 2018).
This particularly takes place in the Macula where Fine focusing occurs. Astellas (formerly Ocata Therapeutics) is a company developing a treatment for Stargardt’s disease. The aim of the designed Stem cell treatment is to retain and protect the photoreceptors damaged by the Stargardt’s disease located in the retina. This occurs by replacing the dead cells located in the retina with cells that are functioning from derived stem cells. According to the results, Phase I and Phase II clinical trials reported from some patients showed significant and encouraging vision improvement (“Stargardt’s Disease (Fundus Flavimaculatus)”, 2018) The treatment is ethical because upon research children between ages six and twenty are affected hence can lead to severe vision problems.
The treatment of using stem cells to replace damaged photoreceptors will help a lot of children especially giving them and their parents hope of being able to see clearly and not having severe vision problems. This will result in patients diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease to be able to read and also do their day to day routines. However, the disadvantage of using stem cells to treat Stargardt’s disease is that it will be costly. Hence, those who are not able to afford the payment will be limited from seeking treatment which can lead to them being blindIn a year, cardiovascular disease claims more that 17million lives worldwide. It is ranked as the highest causing death in men, women and children. Heart failure is a condition whereby an individual’s heart in pumping blood is slower and weaker compared to normal.
Hence, it results to low blood circulation which results to increase in heart pressure and decrease in the amount of oxygen and other nutrients which are supplied to the rest of the body. This may leads to stretching of the heart to hold more blood or thickening and stiffening of the walls of the chambers. Due to weak blood pumping action, the kidneys then retains more salt and water to build up in the ankles, feet arms and around the lungs.
This is termed as congestive heart failure. Scientists are learning how cardiac and cardiomyocytes pacemakers cells operate, how they behave and communicate when danger occurs and within each other. This has led to scientists to grow cardiomyocytes in the lab through Embryonic stem cells, Induced pluripotent stem cells and cardiac progenitor cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells are adult tissue cells. These cells in the lab are reprogramed to behave like embryonic stem cells enabling them to become any type of cell which includes cardiomyocytes. On the other hand Cardiac progenitor cells, are cells that are immature. They are acquired from a heart biopsy and are grown in a dish.
If the cells are less mature then the cells have a higher possibility for repair in the body (“Types of Stem Cells”, 2018)Some of the ethical implication towards therapeutic use of stem cells is respect for human life. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. These cells are derived from embryos that are fertilized in an in vitro fertilization clinic. Stem cell line derivation is a process that cells go through in which some embryos are destroyed. This is considered unethical because when there are embryos that are destroyed then a life of an embryo which could be developed into a fetus and finally be a part of life is pronounced dead (Huizen, 2018). The embryo has is considered to have the same equal moral status as a human.
Hence they are not delivered into the world. However on the other hand others perceive the embryo to be a cell more so a tissue. Through this they are able to see the future in which we are able to derive embryos from eggs which will help in coming up with stem cells which help in solving diseases that haven’t had a cure yet. This is considered ethical because they are not killing a life instead they are coming up with a cure to save lives.
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Retrieved from http://ib.bioninja.com.au/standard-level/topic-1-cell-biology/11-introduction-to-cells/stem-cell-therapy.html