||[Sep. 9th, 2006|11:53 pm]
Our accreditation is pending
What's the deal with stem cell research?|
I know that it's supposed to cure everything ever.
I know that it's very controversial.
I don't understand how it's supposed to cure everything ever.
What are these stem cells?
What do they do?
Why are they so special?
The simple answer? Stem cells are a type of cells found in developing embryos (and in bone marrow sometimes, I think?) that can be convinced to grow into any type of cells you might need. They're what our cells are when we're still developing, before they've quite figured out which cells need to be a brain and which ones are an arm - and scientists are hoping to be able to use them to do things like grow transplant organs.
I might be able to look up sources and such for you later, if you want; that was just what I know off the top of my head.
It has also been discovered that stem cells can be obtained from amniotic fluid
without harm to mother or child, which some pro-lifers are saying should negate the need for traditional stem cell research (in which an embryo is destroyed in order to obtain the cells), however, researchers are saying that more exploration must be done of the different sources of stem cells before it can be determined which ones would best be used for which tasks.
Sorry about the run on sentence.
2007-04-27 05:54 am (UTC)
Stem cells are special because, unlike the cells of your body, they can become any sort of cell they want to (which is handy when you need to produce an entire human body from two microscopic, often unrelated zygotes). Once a stem cell becomes a liver cell, that liver cell won't change back into something different, like a skin cell. Liver cells divide into liver cells divide into liver cells divide into liver cells, etc. However, bad liver cells also only replicate into bad liver cells. Stem cells (which, mostly, only exist in the earliest stages of embryonic life) are important because if you're born without a liver, or your liver cells have a mutation, because you can start with a "blank" cell and set it on the course to become anything, like "good liver cells."