Stem Cell Research for In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Other Diseases - Printable Version
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Stem Cell Research for In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Other Diseases - Kamat2010 - 10-03-2012
What is so special about the use of stem cell in research?
Research in Stem cells is a fast growing area in the field of Biotechnology. The potential of the stem cells to provide treatment for many untreatable diseases is one of the most important factors which is leading to a great deal of study and development in this topic. The departments in many colleges, hospitals, etc. due to the vast potential of stem cell research are pursuing the basic and translational areas of research on the stem cells. Many programmes of study are being developed on various aspects of stem cell research, some of which include the embryonic stem cell lines generation of human; isolation and clonal expansion of the adult progenitor cells of bone marrow; embryonic stem cell line development; stem cell preservation using banana lectins; cardiac stem cell development, characterization and differentiation of pancreatic, liver, and mesenchymal stem cells; ocular surface disorders treatment using limbal cells; hematopoietic stem cells transplantation, etc.
Stem cell is an immature cell that can develop and specialize into almost any cell throughout the body. This potential of the stem cell is the reason for the extensive research regarding it.
They are of two types:
a) Adult stem cells, which are found in already specialized tissue of brain, muscle, skin, bone, and blood. They mainly replace the dead or damaged cells acting as a repair system. Owing to complex growing and differentiating conditions, laboratory studies using them are difficult,
b) Embryonic stem cells, which are developed from a newly fertilized egg and are capable of developing into any cell throughout the body. They are much easier to handle due to favourable conditions for growth. The other type of stem cells that has been identified in recent times is the stem cells derived from the umbilical cord and placenta that can develop into various types of blood cells. The embryonic stem cells can have different sources.
The stem cells are developed by In-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique forming a blastocyst and using it for various researches on genetically inherited diseases or by nuclear transfer, whereby the nucleus of a fully formed egg is removed and replaced by that of an already differentiated adult cell. The development of embryonic stem cells have ethical issues as they are formed by taking the blastocyst of a mother undergoing IVF treatment, hence proper consent is very crucial. The stem cells are also categorized into different classes according to their differentiation and development plasticity as: Totipotent cells, which can develop into a fully developed and functional organism; Pluripotent cells, which can develop into any type of tissue in the body but cannot develop into a complete organism; and Multipotent cells, which can develop into a specific and limited number of tissues.
Some of the basic properties of the stem cells have provided for successful research. The stem cells can be cultured into a cell line easily. The differentiation and development process of the cells can be studied easily with the use of the stem cells. The stem cells can survive for long period thus can be used in drug discovery process for testing of various drugs as well as for toxicity studies. The role of various genes on the development process of human and also the cause and effect of various mutations on the genes can be studied. The stem cells can be used to make rat or mouse chimeras whereby the stem cells of human are implanted on the rat or mouse to study the effect of various drugs, diseases, etc.
Stem cell research is very crucial in the development of treatments for various diseases. Possibilities in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, cancer, Type-I diabetes, etc are being looked at as these diseases are related to the cell differentiation and development process. The stem cells have been successfully used in the treatment of blood diseases and skin diseases. In case of blood tissue, the hematopoietic stem cells are available that can regenerate any type of blood cells and in case of skin graft, the stem cells of the skin are present just below the top layer of skin and can be used successfully to regenerate the skin after burns, etc. The successful regeneration of blood and skin tissues has provided hope for possible treatments with the stem cells in future.