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Research on the development and optimization of the use of stem cells continues to attract interest especially in the fields of biology and medicine. Stem cells possess distinct characteristics that enhance the cells effective in various experimental conditions. The two major characteristics of stem cells are the capability of cell division and transformation into tissue or organ-specific cells. Stem cells play a crucial role in the growth and development of various types of cells in the body and ensure the systematic repair of dead or dysfunctional cells within the body. The analysis of human embryonic cell, adult stem cells and pluripotent stem cells illustrates the importance of stem cells to scientists.
Scientists obtain embryonic cells from embryos through the process of cell culture, which entails the transfer of embryos in the pre-implantation stage into a culture medium to facilitate cell division. Ongoing tests on the use of human embryonic stem cells in the treatment of hearing loss have demonstrated significant success in the treatment of auditory neuropathy, a type of deafness identified in the 1980s. Scientists attribute the breakthrough to the improvement in medical technologies, tools and procedures that enabled extensive studies on the cochlea cells. The common signs and symptoms of auditory neuropathy include mild to advanced hearing loss, problems with speech recognition and interpretation, and poor coordination in activities such as writing and talking. The main causes of auditory neuropathy include hyperbilirubinemia, infections resulting from diseases such as mumps, a dysfunctional immune system, anoxia and neurological disorders. The use of human embryonic stem cells to treat auditory neuropathy is in the pre-clinical stage with most of the test conducted on animals. Scientists have obtained positive results in the treatment of animals using stem cells. The treated animals demonstrated significant improvements in responses to sound signals. The experiment employs the use of embryonic cells to develop hair cells and neurons to enhance the perception of sound.
Developed tissues or organs are the main sources of adult stem cells. The main function of adult stem cells is to repair damaged or dead cells. Scientists obtain adult stem cells from developed tissues such as the bone marrow in adults or from children, the placenta and umbilical cord. Research on the use of adult stem cells in the treatment of the Alzheimer’s disease is at an advanced stage. The Alzheimer’s disease is a medical condition that affects vital functions and processes of an individual’s brain leading to declining memory capabilities and altered thoughts and behavior. The most common signs and symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease include difficulties in multitasking, problems solving logic tasks and forgetfulness of events, conversations, routes and locations. The research on stem cells focuses on the remedy for the Alzheimer’s disease as it advances to manifest through symptoms such as insomnia, depression, irritability and hallucination. Although the Alzheimer’s disease is frequent mainly in old people, the disease has an association with genetic factors, gender and head trauma. Developments in stem cell therapies such as the fetal stem cell therapy illustrate the effectiveness of stem cells in the improvement of brain and body functions altered by the Alzheimer’s disease. An evaluation of studies in countries such as Japan and Ukraine illustrates that Alzheimer’s patients who receive multiple courses of the treatment of stem cells, especially in the early stages of the disease, demonstrate a significant improvement in cognitive abilities, stabilized moods, coordinated language and improved personality and capability to interact. The use of adult stem cells in the treatment of the Alzheimer’s disease is undergoing human trial in various countries.
Biologists define induced pluripotent stem cells as adult cells that exhibit features of embryonic stem cells due to a reprogramming procedure, which forces pluripotent stem cells to develop attributes described as properties of embryonic stem cells. The development of induced pluripotent stem cells brought about a breakthrough in the treatment of Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY). The iPSCs allow scientists to skip costly and time-consuming procedures such as cloning, which are necessary when there is a need to transfer the somatic nuclear in embryonic cells. The use of iPSCs requires neither eggs nor embryos making the treatment of MODY safe. Scientific experimentation with iPSCs faces numerous challenges such as the existence of old data in cells due to factors relating to genetic profiling. Another challenge regarding the use of iPSCs is the existence of foreign genetic forms and viral infection, which causes alteration of the genetic composition of cells. Multiple differentiations of adult stem cells to obtain iPSCs may trigger the onset of certain types of cancers, which cause cell destruction.