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Stem cells

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A major Biotechnological application to medicine Stem cells Introduction Stem cells have two important characteristics that distinguish them from other cells: they are unspecialised cells that can divide to become other types of cells under experimental conditions, stem cells can be induced to become cells with special types of functions e.g. beating cells within the heart. Stem cells found in umbilical cord blood and bone marrow can divide and become red blood cells. White blood cells and platelets. Stem cells are currently used in the treatment of over 40 different cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders. There are a lot of years of research ahead but scientists seem to think that in the future, stem cells will become the basis for treating diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes and heart disease. www.curesource.net/stemcells History Stem cells were recognised as the basic building blocks of life in the 1800's. In the early 1900's, European scientists discovered that blood cells came from a particular 'stem cell' while 'bone marrow transplants' actually was a transplant of stem cells, which are now currently used in treatment of a wide variety of diseases. ...read more.


Unfortunately the number of people suffering from disease outstrips the number of organs available for transplantation. There are a lot of methods used for obtaining human stem cells from the body. Many arguments exist though with embryonic stem cell research because the process of obtaining the cells destroys the human embryo. Some people counter that the embryos were destines to be destroyed anyway (leftovers from a couple's effort to become pregnant). A second way of obtaining is from aborted foetuses. True the foetus is already dead when cell extraction takes place but the method of the baby's death is still immoral- even evil. A third way of obtaining human stem cells is though cord blood. What is cord blood? Cord blood is easily defined as blood retrieved from the umbilical cord after the birth of a child. The cord blood contains stem cells that are considered the building blocks of blood and immune systems within the body. Cord blood is the most desirable as the type of stem cell is the youngest that have not endured aging or damage. ...read more.


Another disadvantage is that the cost is enormous in America the price begins at $1550 at birth, plus $150 for a courier to deliver the blood, plus $95 for storage a year. At these prices, that will cost �2840 by the time the baby is 21. www.cord-blood.org Cord blood and the advantages * It might just save your baby's life or another family member's life in the future. * The collection is painless and harmless to the baby and the mother. * 30%-70% of people who need bone marrow transplants cannot find a match. By banking cord blood the odds of having a proper match for the baby or another family member improve. * Beneficial if a family member has a condition that can be treated with a stem cell transplant, such as sickle cell anaemia. * Future medical advances might allow stem cells to treat even more diseases and be used in more transplant cases than in current medical practises. Book list www.cord-blood.org (Scientific Journal of The American Academy of Paediatrics). Park M. (1995) Oncogenes: genetic abnormalities of cell growth, London. Shara B. A. Cohen ... [et al] Cord blood characteristics : role in stem cell transplantation London: Martin Dunitz, 2000. 1 ...read more.

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