To cure one’s disease is by killing another. The Irony of life.
The first time embryonic stem cell was explained to me, I was ambivalent to support it. But then again, i felt that Science has better reasons why they call it “the cure”. According to Scientist and Doctors, stem cells is considered the ultimate cure for Cancer, Parkinsons, Diabetes and disorders like Alzheimers, etc. But there is a catch, the cells needed, in the form of an ovum and spermatozoon, comes from an embryo. And yes, when we say embryo, it could mean a developing human inside a woman’s womb.
Extracting the stem cells from an embryo means killing it. Some thinks that an embryo is not yet a person because it has no brain and sensory organs but some says it is already human only on its development stage. There is also what they call Adult stem cells but cells from adults are said to be limited and not as healthy as the ones from an embryo have been identified in many organs and tissues. One important point to understand about adult stem cells is that there are a very small number of stem cells in each tissue. Stem cells are thought to reside in a specific area of each tissue where they may remain quiescent (non-dividing) for many years until they are activated by disease or tissue injury. The adult tissues reported to contain stem cells include brain, bone marrow, peripheral blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscle, skin and liver (source: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics4.asp). In Biology class back in high school, stem cell is defined as the building block of the human body, and can reproduce themselves thousand times or more. These cells will later on develop maybe as an ear, lungs, tissues, muscles, heart or liver.
You might be wondering how do stem cells work in our body? I am going to explain it in a way that we will all understand it. Lets say, you have Leukemia, stem cells, which are healthy cells, will be injected to your body. These stem cells will kill all you cancer cells and then when they are killed, the stem cells (that for sure has reproduced themselves so fast) will stay in your body for good and reproduce themselves thus, giving your body a healthy system again. It can also repair tissues, so a person with injuries like burnt skin will heal faster once stem cells are in the bloodstream.
You might be wondering why I am interested in this topic. My family has a Cancer history. My father, uncles and grandmother, all in my father’s side all died of Cancer and two years ago I went under the knife because I discovered a big hard lump on my left breast. It was scary, but thank God it wasn’t breast Cancer. Still my Ob-Gynecologist asked me to observe the remaining three lumps on my right breast because we will never know when it will develop into something that we all dont want to have. If all that has been said about Stem Cells is really true, and they said the treatment has been proven effective, then I truly believe that we have “The Cure”, but we still have to define first an Embryo, because if it is considered human and living then, killing it, is a crime.
Corrections and Additions:
Embryonic stem cells are a primitive type of cell that can be coaxed into developing into all of the 220 types of cells found in the human body (e.g. blood cells, heart cells, brain cells, nerve cells, etc). They are derived from human embryos in a process that causes the death of the embryos.
Adult stem cells bear some similarities to embryonic stem cells. Research using adult cells has a two decade head start on embryonic stem cells. Thus, potential treatments have already advanced to human trial stage. Unfortunately, adult cells are limited in flexibility.