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• • Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide (through mitosis) and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all the specialized cells (these are called pluripotent cells), but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues. Autologous stem cells can be sourced in adult human from three sources: Bone marrow (through harvesting), adipose tissues and blood. Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood just after birth.
Properties of Stem cells: • Self-renewal: The ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining the undifferentiated state. • Potency: The capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. In the strictest sense, this requires stem cells to be either totipotent or pluripotent—to be able to give rise to any mature cell type, although multipotent or unipotent progenitor cells are sometimes referred to as stem cells. Potency of Stem Cells: • Totipotent (a.k.a. omnipotent) stem cells can differentiate into embryonic and extraembryonic cell types. Such cells can construct a complete, viable organism. These cells are produced from the fusion of an egg and sperm cell. Cells produced by the first few divisions of the fertilized egg are also totipotent. Pluripotent stem cells are the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate into nearly all cells, i.e. cells derived from any of the three germ layers. Multipotent stem cells can differentiate into a number of cells, but only those of a closely related family of cells. Eg Blood Cells Oligopotent stem cells can differentiate into only a few cells, such as lymphoid or myeloid stem cells. Unipotent cells can produce only one cell type, their own, but have the property of selfrenewal, which distinguishes them from non-stem cells (e.g., muscle stem cells).
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Induced pluripotent stem cell: • A pluripotent cell is a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system). Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to any fetal or adult cell type. However, alone they cannot develop into a fetal or adult organism because they lack the potential to contribute to extraembryonic tissue, such as the placenta.They are a type of pluripotent stem cell artificially derived from a non-pluripotent cell - typically an adult somatic cell - by inducing a "forced" expression of specific genes. 2012 Noble Prize in Medicine to Shinya Yamanaka , John Gurdon
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iPSCs were first produced in 2006 from mouse cells and in 2007 from human cells in a series of experiments by Shinya Yamanaka's team at Kyoto University, Japan. Because iPSCs are developed from a patient's own somatic cells, it was believed that treatment of iPSCs would avoid any immunogenic responses Pharmaceutical companies have taken it to the next level by using stem cells, either embryonic or iPS cells, for screening drug candidates — for toxicity and potential new treatments. The efficiency of turning adult cells into iPS cells is at present very low at about 1 per cent.
Application of Stem cell research: • • A number of adult stem cell therapies already exist, particularly bone marrow transplants that are used to treat leukemia. One concern of treatment is the risk that transplanted stem cells could form tumors and become cancerous if cell division continues uncontrollably. Ethical debate primarily concerning the creation, treatment, and destruction of human embryos incident to research involving embryonic stem cells. The creation of a human embryonic stem cell line requires the destruction of a human embryo. Embryos are not equivalent to human life while they are still incapable of surviving outside the womb (i.e. they only have the potential for life).
Debate: • • For: •
• More than a third of zygotes do not implant after conception. Thus, far more embryos are lost due to chance than are proposed to be used for embryonic stem cell research or treatments. • Blastocysts are a cluster of human cells that have not differentiated into distinct organ tissue; making cells of the inner cell mass no more "human" than a skin cell. • Some parties contend that embryos are not humans, believing that the life of Homo sapiens only begins when the heartbeat develops, which is during the 5th week of pregnancy, or when the brain begins developing activity, which has been detected at 54 days after conception. • In vitro fertilization (IVF) generates large numbers of unused embryos (e.g. 70,000 in Australia alone). Many of these thousands of IVF embryos are slated for destruction. Using them for scientific research uses a resource that would otherwise be wasted. • While the destruction of human embryos is required to establish a stem cell line, no new embryos have to be destroyed to work with existing stem cell lines. It would be wasteful not to continue to make use of these cell lines as a resource. • Abortions are legal in many countries and jurisdictions. The argument then follows that if these embryos are being destroyed anyway, why not use them for stem cell research or treatments? Adult stem cell versus embryonic stem cell: • Embryonic stem cells make up a significant proportion of a developing embryo, while adult
stem cells exist as minor populations within a mature individual (e.g. in every 1,000 cells of the bone marrow, only 1 will be a usable stem cell). Thus, embryonic stem cells are likely to be easier to isolate and grow ex vivo than adult stem cells. • Embryonic stem cells divide more rapidly than adult stem cells, potentially making it easier to generate large numbers of cells for therapeutic means. In contrast, adult stem cell might not divide fast enough to offer immediate treatment. Embryonic stem cells have greater plasticity, potentially allowing them to treat a wider range of diseases. Adult stem cells from the patient's own body might not be effective in treatment of genetic disorders. DNA abnormalities found in adult stem cells that are caused by toxins and sunlight may make them poorly suited for treatment. Embryonic stem cells have been shown to be effective in treating heart damage in mice. Embryonic stem cells are considered more useful for nervous system therapies, because researchers have struggled to identify and isolate neural progenitors from adult tissues. Pro-life supporters often claim that the use of adult stem cells from sources such as umbilical cord blood has consistently produced more promising results than the use of embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells have never produced therapies Moreover, there have been many advances in adult stem cell research, including a recent study where pluripotent adult stem cells were manufactured from differentiated fibroblast by the addition of specific transcription factors. Rights and status of the embryo as an early-aged human life. Embryonic stem cells, however, might be rejected by the immune system - a problem which wouldn't occur if the patient received his or her own stem cells.
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