Medical and Science

What’s all this Stuff About Stem Cells?

Figure 5 by Libertas Academica, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  Libertas Academica

I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff lately about stem cells. It’s probably been going on for quite some time, but I just didn’t notice until recently. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about all this, but basically what they are doing, is creating lab grown organs.
Now this sounds kind of scary to me, almost like an oddity against God’s will. Some would say it’s a scientific miracle and the research is fantastic. According to research, they are able to use stem cells and turn them into any type of cell they wish. These cells are used to repair damaged tissue and even create organs.
The scary part is that most of the stem cells they use are collected from human embryos. It was not until recently that they discovered they could create stem cells by using skin tissue cells. Now that sounds a bit better to me. The thought of using human embryos just doesn’t sit right, I’m not an activist or anything, but it just sounds wrong.

Successful Stem Cell Procedures

They actually made a trachea for one patient which started off with a CT scan of his neck. From those scans they created an exact scale model of his trachea, it was made out of some sort of plastic material. Then the doctors harvested stem cells from his bone marrow which they used to produce more cells needed for the procedure. Then they created a stem cell “bath” which was poured over the trachea model as it was turned slowly. The stem cells then turned into trachea cells and they had a new trachea within 48 hours. Now this is really amazing, at least they were using stem cells from the actual patient instead of harvesting from an embryo.


In February 2012 the FDA approved the first artificial trachea surgery in the United States. They actually have many more artificial organs being produced and they are reserved for those with the sickest conditions. As hard as it is to get onto a donor list for an organ, this may be a great advancement. There are many people that die each year waiting on a transplant of some sort. Simply because they never receive a donor.


There was also a successful vein transplant done in Sweden that was performed on a 10 year old girl who was suffering from severe vein blockage. They harvested the stem cells the same way as the other guy, by using her bone marrow. This procedure saved her life, and that makes it all worth it in my eyes.


When Can I Get a Home Grown Organ

Scientists say this form of organ growing may not be out of the official testing stages for another 8 years or so. Mainly because they are still perfecting the process. Some of the more unusual shaped organs are far more difficult to replicate and fine tuning the procedure takes some time. But they say by 2020 they will have esophagus, intestine, lungs, heart, liver and kidneys all available for transplant surgeries.


How Much and What are the Risks

Even though the risk of infection for these operations will still be just as high as with a normal human donor, they say the risk of rejecting the organ will be almost none. Seeing how the organs will be generated from the patients own cells, the organs should be a perfect match.


You’re probably thinking, “Man these jewels will be expensive” right? But actually they’re saying the cost will be a fraction of the traditional transplant method. As fast as they can have these things made, you would be able to have your organ ready to go within a couple of days and be on the operating table.

So all in all, I’m kind of liking this research and it seem that it will be able to save way more lives. Although I don’t really know much about all this stem cell research, there are a lot of people that follow the news on this stuff. Leave me some comments and let me know what up with all this. Or give me your opinion on how you feel about this “unnatural” procedure.

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