Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In many tissues, they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue or organ specific cells with special functions. Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease. However, much work remains to be done in the laboratory and the clinic to understand how to use these cells for cell-based therapies to treat disease, which is also referred to as regenerative or reparative medicine.
Stem cell research has a chance to better the life of all living organisms and create cures for serious health hazards. We should take advantage of this research and begin to fund for stem cells in our country.
The first type of research that is extremely important is the idea of Gene therapy, which “is a technique for correcting defective genes responsible for disease development” (Hillber, Mark). Most commonly, a normal gene is inserted into the genome to replace the “disease”-causing causing gene. Other ways to use gene therapy in order to “fix” the gene make up would be, swapping the “disease”-causing causing gene for a “healthy” gene through homologous recombination (Hillber, Mark). When this diseased-gene is replaced it creates a healthy string of DNA completely erasing the illness. This is a major advancement for people with serious illnesses such as cancer.
Strategies of gene therapy for cancer are “enhancing immune cells to increase anti-tumor activity, for example by introducing genes that encode cytokines”(Li, Guojun). Another way would be to “kill tumor cells by inserting toxin genes under the control of a tumor-specific promoter”. If gene therapy can create ways to increase the health of those suffering from cancer, the benefits for smaller diseases can be unimaginable. With all gene therapy does, is it acceptable to treat all diseases using this method? “In the last two decades, gene therapy has moved from the conceptual stage to technology development and laboratory research to clinical translational trials for a variety of deadly diseases” such as cancer, HIV, etc. (Timmons, Mark). With the seriousness of what gene therapy actually does, it should only be applicable for those serious diseases that are life threatening. Other diseases have many different ways to go about curing or treating. Stem Cell research is the answer for curing many severe diseases that affect humans and we must come together to fight for the use of its benefits.
Hillber, Mark G. “Gene Therapy.” Human Genome Information. U.S Department of Energy, 24 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/medicine/genetherapy.shtml>
Li, Guojun. “Gene Therapy for Cancer.” NDSU (1996): 39-69. Print.
Timmons, Mark. “Gene Therapy for Diseases.” ASGCT – American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy. Web. 21 Oct. 2011.