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What are the Different Stem Cell Benefits?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 December 2019
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It’s difficult to discuss the benefits of stem cells, since research on stem cells has not yet reached the point where widescale research or treatments are being conducted on humans. There are some very exciting details coming from animal studies about potential things for which stem cells might be later used, and there are a number of suggested stem cell benefits that could be seen in the near future. Without addressing the complex issues that involves obtaining embryonic stem cells, this article will discuss the stem cell benefits the scientific/medical community hopes to see.

The potential for stem cells to cure human disease, especially of degenerative types has been a hope of many. Proponents like actor Michael J. Fox, have long advocated for giving American scientists a freer hand in harvesting and using cells for diseases like the one he suffers from, Parkinson’s disease. Any disease that involves sudden death or destruction of cells is looked at as possibly an illness in which stem cells may have use. If stem cells can replace destroyed cells or go into the body and begin to create more cells that might replace any losses, it could possibly stop the progression of a disease or reverse its damage.

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The issue of being able to reverse damage was one very much at the heart of another beloved actor, the late Christopher Reeve. Like Fox, Reeve passionately argued that stem cell research might be the means toward reversing spinal damage, and actually regrowing the nerves that enervated the spine in those who had suffered traumatic spinal injuries. There still is hope that eventually this scenario could occur, and that one day a severe spinal injury would not mean a person remained paralyzed for life.

Another of the stem cell benefits is that (especially with embryonic stem cells) they can be coded to make different types of the body, including organs. While the procedures for organ transplantation have greatly advanced, there still remains a shortage of available organs. It is thought that at some point organs could be grown either in some form of chamber or in the body of an animal. The advantage would be even more significant if the cells used to make that organ were the person’s own. This could end the issue of organ rejection completely, in addition to stopping the problem of organ shortage.

Skin is often called one of the most important organs of the body, but skin that is damaged too much may not be able to repair itself. One of the possible stem cell benefits is using them to grow skin, especially for those who are burn victims. Skin might either be grown away from a person, or cells might be injected into damaged or injured skin prompting new growth.

The idea of injecting stem cells to treat diseases or functional issues is being explored in many ways. Would stem cells placed into a diseased or poorly functioning heart repair it, for instance? Could stem cells be used to stop kidney failure, or even do something as minor as making hair loss a thing of the past? All of these ideas been have posited as potential benefits of stem cells.

An additional disease that resists treatment and might eventually be cured through the benefits of stem cells is cancer. In particular leukemia, which is a blood cancer, is thought to be most likely to respond well to stem cell therapy. It’s certainly hoped that other cancers would be just as successfully treated.

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