By researching human embryonic stem cells, there is increasing hope that one day human embryonic stem cell therapy may help alleviate the pain and suffering caused by many cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and many other human afflictions.
One major area of stem cell research is directed towards understanding how undifferentiated stem cells become differentiated stem cells that form the tissues and organs of the body. (Differentiation is the process whereby an unspecialized embryonic cell acquires the features of s specialized cell such as a heart, liver, or muscle cell. Differentiation is controlled by the interaction of a cell’s genes with the physical and chemical conditions outside of the cell, usually through signaling pathways involving proteins embedded in the cell surface.)
It has been determined that the process is controlled by turning off and turning on certain genes in the cells but the process is complex and can be elusive. Since cancer and birth defects are caused by abnormal cell division and differentiation, a better understanding of the genetic and molecular controls of these processes may lead to better understanding regarding the disease process and ultimately to new therapies to treat these conditions.
Control Is A Key
Equally important is a better and more full understanding of how to control the proliferation of cells and cell differentiation so that cell proliferation and cell differentiation can be precisely controlled to the benefit of patients with abnormal cells. Once an appropriate level of understanding and control are achieved, new techniques must be created to allow their introduction into the cells to affect the processes in a predictable and intended manner.
Human Stem Cell Research For New Drugs
The use of human stem cells in the testing of new drugs also offers potentially exciting advances in treatments and therapies. Currently, cancer cell lines are being used to test anti-tumor drugs. However, much further research and understanding are necessary so that researchers can precisely control the differentiation of stem cells into the specific types of cells needed to test the efficacy of the drugs being developed.
Human Stem Cell Research For Generating New Human Organs
An ultimate goal of human stem cell research is the ability to generate cells and tissues for cell-based therapies that could be used as a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries, strokes, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Stem cell research holds the promise that some day human stem cells can be specifically directed to differentiate into specifically intended cell types such as heart cells, liver cells, muscle cells, etc., so that diseased or injured tissues or organs can be healed or replaced. Some day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, people will not needlessly die waiting for a donated organ or suffer because of the lack of transplantable tissues.
Many people who suffer from chronic diseases and injuries who may benefit from human stem cell research and resulting medical advances feel strongly that it is inhuman and a disgrace that the political, religious, moral, and/or ethical leanings of some powerful people in government can dictate to the medical researchers involved in human stem cell research how their research is conducted, or more accurately, how it may not be conducted. Others feel strongly that human stem cell research involves the destruction of human life (that is, embryos) and therefore is amoral. Perhaps the underlying issue is the extent to which the beliefs of others that affect one’s own life should be involved in medical research that may save one’s life or reduce one’s suffering.
There is no doubt that medical research and the medical advancements achieved through medical research over the recent past have saved numerous lives, extended many lives, and have contributed to the betterment of the quality of life for so many. The medical researchers who toil long hours and days unending, often without recognition for their contributions, to help people live better and more fulfilling lives are owed our debt of gratitude and our praise.
However, some medical professionals cause or contribute to human suffering due to their incompetency or careless mistakes. If you or a family member have been injured as a result of medical negligence in the medical care or treatment that you received, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with a possible medical malpractice claim. You can also reach us toll free 800-295-3959.
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