pharmaceuticalsAs the debate on whether to use stem cells, or not to use stem cells continues to rage, many people are starting to look to the potential upside of using stem cells as a deciding factor.  Stem cells have remarkable potential to be used to test new drugs, cure previously thought of as incurable diseases, and possibly cure many different types of cancer.  But the application of stem cell research has caused a heated debate over the last 20 years, and much of stem cell research was illegal until only recently.  So what are the reasons for this heated debate about stem cell research, and what are the possible applications of stem cells in the future.

You may wonder why there is any debate at all, over a medical treatment method, which may be able to cure some diseases that 20 years ago were thought of as altogether incurable.  But, as it often is, the discussion is much more complicated than it seems.  At the heart of the stem cell debate is the battle over abortion.  According to many opponents of stem cell research, using living stem cell tissue, usually from living embryos, is likened to abortion, since the embryo will be destroyed after testing.  On the other side of the argument, stem cells hold great promise for millions of families and patients thorough out the world, to cure previously incurable diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some forms of cancer.  But what exactly are stem cells, and how can they be used to cure diseases?

Stem cells are found all over our body in differentiated tissue and organ cells.  Stem cells are primarily used in the body to maintain and repair tissue cells, and only divide and repair when needed in case of disease or injury.  Stem cells can be found in bone marrow, brain cells, skeletal cells, blood vessels, even teeth.  Only until recently, scientists have been able to reprogram living stem cells, which provides very promising treatment options for the future.  By being able to reprogram adult stem cells the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer, and even curing blindness, are now thought to be within reach.  Even pharmaceutical firms and pharmaceutical consultancy firms are even coming out openly saying that the application of stem cells to cure disease is a real possibility and needs to be further examined.

However, there may be compromises available that will help stem cell research to move forward and into practical use.  Another method of extracting stem cells is through the process of taking adult stem cells from living blood or organs of healthy adults.  This would end the abortion issue about stem cells, and help research to move forward.  The only problem with this method is that many scientists are finding adult stem cells to be marginally helpful to scientists, and do not show the same promise as using living embryos.

Regardless of the debate over stem cell research, the practical usage of stem cells could ultimately be revolutionary in the field of medicine.  Stem cells could be used to test new drugs, they would allow for a wider range of drug testing for all kinds of drugs, including anti-tumor drugs in cancer cases.  They can be used to regenerate damaged cell tissue or even completely replace damaged tissue in the body.  It could help in the treatment, or possibly cure such diseases as Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, strokes, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, and heart disease.  Only time will tell what the future use of stem cells will bring to our society as a whole, but at this point many are seeing the possible, future benefit of using stem cells, outweighing any negative stigma regarding stem cell research.

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