Embryonic Stem Cell Research
become one or more than one human being. Science has yet to unravelthis phenomenon. All the cells of an early embryo are totipotent untilaround the 16 cell stage. Before day 14, these inner cells can split intohalf, and each half can develop into an embryo, resulting in identicaltwins.
cells are more differentiated cells, and therefore areless plastic and more determined, with the ability of giving rise to only ahited number of tissues. These cells can develop into any of the threemajor tissue types: endoderm (interior gut
mesoderm (muscle,bone and blood) and ectoderm (the nervous system and epidermaltissues). Pluripotent cells can also develop into end organs, but becausethey are more specialised, they cannot develop into a human being. Thefinal category comprises tissue specific cells, hke the hematopoieticstem cells, which are committed to developing all types of blood cells.These cells are called
and have the capacity to differentiateinto only a few cell hes dfferent from their heage.Stem cells may be obtained from various sources.
Human emblyonicstem cells
are taken from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, whlch is avery early embryo. These cells are valuable scientifically because of theirability to replicate themselves indefinitely without undergoingsenescence (ageing and death). Put differently, they are 'immortal', thatis, they have the capacity for unlimited self-maintenance. ES cells couldalso differentiate into many cell types in tissues including blood cells,cardiac and skeletal muscle. The clinical potential of this will bediscussed in a later section. The isolation and growth of these cellswould allow scientists to obtain millions of these cells in a single tissueculture flask.
re collected from fetus tissue ata somewhat later stage of development. In November 1988, scientistssuccessfully isolated, cultured and characterised these cells from thegonadal ridge of human tissue obtained from abortuses. These cellswere capable of producing the three germ layers that make
theorgans in the body.
Hmnadult stem cells
are obtained from maturetissue. These give rise to a number of cell types and therefore are called
cells. The hitations and value of these adult stem cells areclearly explained in the AAS /ICS Report:Adult-derived stem cell therapies will complement, butcannot replace, therapies that may be eventuallyobtained from ES cells. They do have some advantages.