Stem Cells Research
Many people are excited about the future of stem cells. Not only can stem cells help researchers learn more about the way the body functions, it can also help to possibly treat many diseases, test drugs for toxicity and even aid in gene therapy.
Scientists have been trying for some time now to find an effective way of correcting genes that carry diseases, a process known as gene therapy. This is usually done by inserting an altered, non-diseased gene into the genome to replace the defective gene. The most common method of infusing the defective gene is through a virus that has been altered with the therapeutic gene. However, this carrier method possesses the problem of triggering an immune system response as well as the potential for the virus to revert back to its ability to cause a disease. Some nonviral methods have been tested but they have proven to be somewhat less effective than using altered viruses.
Overall, gene therapy has not proven to be very effective. In addition to finding a more successful carrier method, scientists also need to overcome the obstacle of treating disorders that are the result of multiple defective genes. Researchers are hoping that stem cells can be used as a more efficient carrier method of therapeutic cells as well as being able to treat disorders involving multiple genes.
Clinical trials are currently on-going to find new ways to treat a host of diseases, disorders and injuries through stem cells. While researchers are always looking for new uses of stem cells, there are certain areas that hold the most promise.
Muscular dystrophy, Alzheimerï¿½s disease, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, burns, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal cord injuries are some of the main areas currently being investigated. Clinical trials are already underway for treating juvenile diabetes and Parkinsonï¿½s disease. Some Australian researchers have said they believe an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis is less than five years away after they performed some promising research on mice. Stem cells have even been shown to generate growth of new hair in people suffering from hair loss.
Understanding the Human Body
In order to find effective treatments for these diseases, disorders and injuries, experts must first understand just how the cells work. Currently, the biggest obstacle for researchers is figuring out just which stimulants work best to generate differentiation in stem cells. However, the more investigation that takes place, the more scientists can learn about how human cells work.
Having a better understanding of how human cells work can help researchers identify all the intricate details that occur during human development. This will aid researchers in recognizing those people at greater risk of developing diseases, disorders, and even birth defects. Once this is understood, researchers can begin to develop new ways of preventing or treating certain diseases or disorders.
Many experts are now looking for ways to test new drugs on stem cells that have been manipulated to imitate a diseased cell. If a drug proves to be safe and beneficial to the cell line during these tests, it could then go on to be tested on humans and animals.
Unfortunately, in order to do this, scientists need to understand exactly how to accurately stimulate stem cells in order to get them to differentiate properly. At this time, the differentiation process is still not fully understood which is the biggest hindrance to stem cell research. While stem cells hold a lot of promise for the future, many investigations still need to performed before they can be utilized to their maximum potential.
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