Through the ages stem cell research has always promised to find the
exact cause and treat hitherto incurable diseases like multiple
sclerosis. The benefits of stem cell research are not only confined to
finding treatments for such diseases, but also promise to unearth the
defects which lead to the condition in the first place.
The advantages of embryonic and adult stem cell research and therapy are many. While critics tend to harp at the various uncertainties associated with these nascent technologies, scientists have begun unraveling the mystery behind many diseases.
Advantages of Adult Stem Cell Research
1. Adult stem cells do not have a complicated harvesting procedure as they are already present in various tissues in the concerned individual.
2. These cells are already specialized and can thus be coaxed into transforming themselves into desired type of cells.
3. The risk of immune rejection is almost nil because the cells are harvested from the individual and not from cell cultures in laboratories.
4. These stem cells also have a low tumorigenic potential - meaning the risk of tumor formation is virtually non-existent when using these type of cells.
5. These cells also afford scientists a chance to learn in detail the mechanics being growth and cell development.
Furthermore adult stem cell research can also help explain the process of aging and devise strategies to reverse this process.
Advantages of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
1. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent and can develop into any cell type in the body. Hence they are regarded as more versatile and flexible than adult stem cells.
2. These cells are almost immortal in that they remain viable for long periods of time and can produce an infinite number of cell lines required for research.
3. These cells are readily available as many embryos that are not utilized during in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques can be made available for research.
4. With the advent of new technologies like somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the chances of immune rejection are nullified as patients will be using their own cells.
5. Researchers may also be able to study the development of birth defects using these cells and thus take steps to prevent such unfortunate occurrences in future. Other potential areas of research include repeated miscarriages and infertility.
In summary then, the benefits of stem cell research far outweigh any disadvantages. The techniques of harvesting stem cells are continually being refined, so researchers can have an unlimited supply at their disposal as they set out on a quest to make mankind disease free.