Stem Cell Research (Weird Science)

Stem cells, or cells able to evolve into any specialized cell, have been a focus of researchers since 1998 and has only grown in recent years. The cells are derived from either an embryo in the blastocyst phase (an embryo that has not yet begun to develop the specialized cells of a human) or from adult tissue. The cells are then grown in controlled cultures that prevent them from becoming specialized while they replicate. From division, they can be collected by researchers and stimulated, so they specialize in the desired cell.  In the recent years, such techniques have led to progress in cancer research, heart failure studies, and Parkinson’s research. 

It was in November 2017 that a drug was delivered to cancer stem cells via nanoparticles which prevented the cancer cells from multiplying.  This technique proved to be beneficial yet again when in September of the same year when stem cells from an umbilical cord were differentiated into cells that improved the heart’s ability to pump blood.  These results show promise for the treatment of the increasing number of heart failure patients in the United States.  Also, in August 2017 headway was made in the research of Parkinson’s disease as it was discovered that stem cells could be utilized to act as nerve cells, thus restoring nerve function in monkeys that once were impacted by Parkinson’s.  These are only a few of the many ways in which stem cells have been helping researchers make progress in treating diseases that otherwise had little hope of being cured.

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Columnist for Newfield High School and aspiring lab scientist.

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