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personal - multiple sclerosis - Stem Cell Treatment

What is a Stem Cell?

A stem cell is one of the human body's master cells, with the ability to grow into any one of the body's more than 200 cell types.

All stem cells are unspecialized, relatively primitive cells that retain the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialized and take the place of cells that die or are lost.

Stem cells contribute to the body's ability to renew and repair its tissues. Unlike mature cells, which are permanently committed to their fate, stem cells can both renew themselves as well as create new cells of whatever tissue they belong to (and other tissues).

The human body provides an almost unlimited source of stem cells. However, the problem lies not in locating these cells, but in isolating them from their source.

Scientists have isolated several key "ready-made" sources of stem cells, often referred to as "reservoirs". The following sources fall within this category:

Ethical Considerations

Stem cells in the embryo are said to be capable of huge variation in the kinds of tissues they make, reproduce rapidly and have attracted interest of researchers for decades. Adult stem cells are not quite as versatile because they are already specific to certain cell types. However supplying stem cells from human embryos is illegal in some countries or required applying for complex licenses in others.

There are major religious and/or 'right to life' objections to any treatment involving fetal or embryonic tissue.

One form of treatment that would be less controversial would be the use of Whole Cord Blood Stem Cells - i.e. cells from umbillical cords - which involves the use of stem cells derived from full term births via informed consent donations.

The Future?

Stem cell research and treatment is still in it's infancy. Although there has been some evidence of success in treating - NOT CURING - some degenerative illness, there is still insufficient information about this treatment.


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