What are stem cells and why are they important in research?

430 views

What are stem cells and why are they important in research?

In: Biology

If we took samples from your body of different parts and looked at them under a microscope we would be able to tell the difference between different types of cells. A brain cell would look like a brain cell and a muscle cell would looks like a muscle cell. They both contain a full copy of your DNA, but the brain cell is reading the part of your DNA that instructs it to be a brain cell, and the muscle cell is following inscriptions for being a muscle cell. If we transplant a brain cell into your muscle it will only ever be an out of place brain cell and will probably die.

A stem cell is a cell that has yet to determine what “type” of cell it is going to become. Therefore they are very valuable for medical treatment and research. They can teach us a lot about how cells and DNA work, and they are important for treating many genetic diseases.

stem cells are cells that are not specialized yet. If you took a liver tissue sample from your body and cultured it in a lab (let it duplicate) you would get more liver cells, you couldn’t turn them into any other type of cells. If you took stem cells, with the right inputs you could turn them into whatever cells you wanted to including nerve cells which could help people who have spinal cord injuries walk again, you could grow new skin cells so burn patients wouldn’t have to graft skin from other parts of their bodies, you could repair brain damage, etc.

The controversy is fetal tissue is a very good source to harvest stem cells.

There are totipotent, pluripotent, multipotent stem cells

Each can ‘change’ into various types of other cells (the names tell the extent)

So if we can harness this, we can probably recreate a person’s completely lost organ (among other bizarre possibilities)