If you were to search on Google for ‘stem cell’, you would receive well over 9 million results. This was at the last count in September 2010. Needless to say, it is much higher than now. There is a lot of research on stem cells, and a lot of controversy as well. Hence, it may be important to determine just what stem cells have the potential to do first.
A Brief Definition
According to the National Institutes of Health, stem cells are remarkable as they are able to turn themselves into a variety of different cells within the human body, and particularly during the growth periods of early life. Furthermore, stem cells are found in most of the body’s tissues, where they act as a type of repair system. Essentially, stem cells can divide an unlimited amount of times and they are able to replenish other cells. The only time they stop to do this is when the person dies. Every time a cell divides, each part can become any new kind of cell, including a muscle, a brain or a red blood cell.
Stem Cell Controversy
One of the controversies is that people believe stem cells are harvested from embryos, often those that are collected at abortion clinics. Some significant research is being done at present into how much of this happens and whether or not it is ethical. However, stem cells are also harvested from umbilical cords, the placenta, blood from the cord, peripheral blood, bone marrow, menstrual blood and teeth, to name but a few. As such, it is certainly not true that stem cell treatment equates to baby murder.
Once people know where stem cells actually come from, and that they have been given with consent, people tend to no longer oppose stem cell treatment either. Additionally, it is now known that stem cells have significant potential to help people heal. This includes children with Leukemia, for instance, but also Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. While these studies are being conducted and are showing excellent results, the FDA has not yet approved the treatment method and it is unlikely that they will approve it for quite some time, or at least until they have seen long term improvements with little to no side effects.
At the minute, therefore, people who do have illnesses such as the ones mentioned earlier will often have to travel abroad in order to obtain stem cell treatment. They will generally go to the Ukraine, Thailand, Mexico or China. Unfortunately, this is often unsafe because it is so unregulated.
Luckily, there is an alternative as well. You can now have stem cells harvested to your own body and these can then be reinjected into your body through IV (intravenous) drips or injections. This is in full compliance with the FDA rules and guidelines. As such, people are now using stem cells for various conditions – including aging – more and more frequently.