Tapping Into Stem Cell Potential
Scientists hope that stem cells, which hold the promise of
repairing damaged or defective cells in the body, might cure and
treat illnesses that affect millions of kids, including
Crohn's disease, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and spinal
cord injuries. While U.S. research continues to focus on the
political, religious, and ethical aspects of stem cell research,
scientists in all corners of the globe are exploring just how
much potential stem cells hold.
Stem cells are unique because they can develop into lots of
different types of cells in different parts of the body, and
continue to produce new cells. Because of that, there's hope that
stem cells could, for instance, make insulin-producing cells for
diabetes patients. But political debate has swirled around stem
cell research, mostly around the issue of using stem cells from
leftover embryos created for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics,
which would have otherwise been discarded. Some feel that deriving
stem cells this way is a destruction of life. Others are concerned
that stem cell research will lead to human cloning. In 2006,
President Bush vetoed a bill that would have allowed research on
stem cells taken from IVF clinics. Even so, legislators continue to
push to expand the boundaries for stem cell research, hoping that
it will offer a variety of new cures, treatments, and hope for
millions of families.
What to Watch:
As research around the globe continues, scientists and doctors
will learn more about possible roles for stem cells in treating
human diseases. The recent shift in the U.S. political climate may
yield more latitude for conducting stem cell research here. Will
this promising new approach really bring the breakthroughs that
families affected by many chronic, devastating diseases hope?
Initial results are promising, but only time will tell.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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