Stem cells have the potential to be revolutionary to the way in which we treat specific diseases and medical issues, but they also have the potential to completely revolutionize the way in which we grapple with life-threatening ailments. They can do this because of their nature as undifferentiated and unspecified cells–this gives them the ability to “self-renew and differentiate into various kinds of cells,” giving them the potential to replenish lost cells related to ailments and organ failures.
It is widely believed that transplantation of specific stem cells into injured tissue is an effective way to repair tissue; this will result in the cells shifting to replace the lost cells. This practice is called cell replacement therapy. Successful organ transplantation has also been practiced in clinics that specify organ failure of the liver or kidney. The primary challenge to this, however, has been the shortage of donor organs. This obstacle has informed the research focus that scientists are taking–they have, instead, shifted their goals to include generating transplantable organs using stem cells for organ replacement.
En route to this goal, numerous accounts of research have taken place. It has been shown by three separate independent groups that a single adult tissue stem cell can produce, in vivo, the mammary gland and the prostate. In addition to this capability, it has also been proven that embryonic stem cells can produce specific organs. This process involves the injection of embryonic stem cells from one species into the blastocyst, or early-developed human embryo, of another species. Then, this can be genetically manipulated in the recipient to develop a specific organ. This is referred to as the blastocyst completion system.
This system has the potential to provide a remedy for the shortage of donor organs. However, it raises its unique obstacles. There are ethical issues that arise from the use of inter-species technology, as well as using human stem cells. Of course, even though inter-species technology is equipped, the goal is to produce human-specific organs that are functional and able to be accepted by the human body. This process has to meet the scientific and ethical guidelines put into place by the International Society for Stem Cell Research. This is a unique challenge in itself, as usually, it requires the approval from ethical committees.
There is so much opportunity for the improvement of stem cells to be able to solve complicated issues in the medical world. Scientists will continue to experiment with cutting-edge technology, and it is exhilarating to consider where