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Stem cells: Haematopoiesis and the future of stem cell use in medicine.

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Introduction

Stem cells: Haematopoiesis and the future of stem cell use in medicine In this essay I will be determining how pluripotent stem cells from the human embryo reach the point of multipotency, and then their function in differentiating into different types of cells in the blood. I will also discuss the future of the use of stem cell technology in medicine, in growing cells, tissues and perhaps even organs to replace the ineffective originals. When an ovum is fertilised, and has only just began to divide, each of the cells formed is said to be 'totipotent' as it has the capability of developing into an embryo in itself if implanted into a womb alone. After a few days, the zygote becomes known as a blastocyst, and each of the inner cells is able to produce almost any cell in the body, except for those that form the placenta, which have already been formed and surround this ball of 'embryonic stem cells'. ...read more.

Middle

These will each have the ability to form only one of four different types: white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and granulocytes (another type of white blood cell, with granules in the cytoplasm), and then they may or may not differentiate further into more specialized types of cells. For the development of red blood cells (erythrocytes), a glycoprotein called EPD Procrit must be detected. This encourages the committed progenitor to form red blood cells upon mitosis. All other types have similar glycoproteins, which encourage differentiation into other particular cells. There are many ways in which scientists plan to utilise the unique properties of stem cells for medical use, particularly erythroblasts as they are known to be the least diverse adult stem cells. (The best stem cells available would be from an undeveloped embryo, inside the blastocyst, but there are many ethical problems involved with their use, so finding an equally useful alternative would be much more viable for the future.) Much sought after is a cure, or viable treatment, for type one diabetes, in which the body's own T-cells have destroyed insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. ...read more.

Conclusion

A therapy much celebrated by scientists and disliked by pro-life campaigners is therapeutic cloning. This is a type of cloning that aims to reproduce an organ, tissue or group of cells using a person's own stem cells. This method almost eradicates the risk of rejection by the body (as the t-cells will recognise the cells as non-foreign, but the method used causes some foreign mitochondria to be involved in the daughter cells, so there is still some risk, although much reduced). A donor stem cell from the patient is fused, through somatic cell nuclear transfer, with an egg cell stripped of its nucleus and treated with electric shock treatment, to stimulate the egg into growth. Embryonic stem cells can then be harvested and treated (encouraged, using similar chemical gradient properties and utilising homebox genes) to develop into the desired cells or organ. These can then be transplanted into the patient and, theoretically, function as normal. Heart and lung transplants seem far into the future, but miniature, functioning kidneys and pancreatic cells have been produced. http://biotech.icmb.utexas.edu/search/dict-search.mhtml http://www.mcl.tulane.edu/classware/pathology/Krause/Blood/HP.html http://www.copewithcytokines.de/cope.cgi?004470 http://www.stemcellnetwork.ca http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/neupogenfacts.asp http://sickle.bwh.harvard.edu/sickle_bmt.html http://www.newscientist.com/news/news. ...read more.

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