Potential of Stem Cells
The potential for human embryonic stem cells is high. The researched happening right now for stem cells is what genetic information spurs them to change from undifferentiated cells into differentiated cells which can form tissues and organs. If scientists can determine how to turn these genes on and off then the ability to treat issues such as burns, heart disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury and more will be unlocked. Scientists are hoping studying the abnormal cell division in cancer or from birth defects hold a clue about how to control this genetic process.
The additional challenge to figuring out how to turn on and off cell division is regulating it so that it doesn’t go out of control. Human stem cells are used for testing a plethora of drugs today in order to ensure they are safe before being approved for human consumption. Doctors such as J Kevin Kaufman are excited for what these treatments could mean for helping people with back injuries and other related issues. Right now the human stem cells which are being tested are being injected into lab mice to see if they can provide cell based therapy to issues the mice suffer from. For example, preliminary research indicates if we inject bone marrow stromal cells into a damaged heart it has beneficial effects of helping the heart repair. How and why exactly is still being determined, but these results are promising for the future.
A lot needs to happen for scientists to successfully manipulate stem cells and make them work for cell based treatment therapies.
First, the stem cells need to be reproducible so they can proliferate into quantities sufficient for treatment.
Second, they need to develop the ability to have cells divide into the desired cell types without irregularities or other potential issues.
Third, the cells need to survive in the host after they are transplanted so they can take effect and go to work. If the host’s body kills the cells or fights with them then the treatment will fail.
Four, the stem cells need to be capable of integrating into the targeted tissue otherwise they won’t have the effect we’re hoping to achieve.
Five, we need the cells to keep performing their job for a long time. If the cell treatment only lasts a month then the patient will have return regularly to have new injections of cells and this is not the desired outcome.
Six, the stem cells cannot harm the patient.
The next decade proves to be a very promising one thanks to the advancements in technology and computer processing which allows us to perform more calculations and simulations at greater speeds than ever before.