Medical Technology

Alternatives to Stem Cells

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"Alternatives to Stem Cells"
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Human stem-cell research has brought several advancements in science, not just genetics or technology.

Let's look at an overview of stem-cells. Stem-cells are the cells that an embryo is made up of, and in simple terms, it's a cell that's not quite a cell yet. You have billions of cells in your body; each has a different function. Your skin is made up of skin cells, your brain is made of brain cells, and so on. An embryo's cells haven't developed to that stage yet, and they could be called "empty cells", in a sense. After the moment of conception, the egg cell will begin to rapidly divide, and once it reaches a certain point, it will program cells to become different types.

The reason why research into cloning and stem-cells is being conducted is because it's a potential source of biological material. For example, lets say you're suffering from a disease or condition, and you need a heart transplant. Sometimes, people wait for donor hearts for decades and can't find one that's suitable or simply can't find one at all.

What if you were able to clone yourself, and then harvest stem cells from the embryo of your clones? After that, if you could somehow program a stem cell into becoming heart tissue and such, then eventually, you could put all the cells together and make a perfect heart, with no chance of rejection or complications, with little wait.

It'd be a useful method in medical science, it would certainly save many lives and make lives easier for thousands of people worldwide. However, sometimes things aren't always that good. Destroying a human embryo to create an organ for yourself would definitely carry some moral weight with it, as several religions oppose the idea and even those who don't believe may decide that it's an inhumane procedure. Because of this, you may want an alternative.

There can be a few alternatives to stem-cell research and harvesting.

One is where you take cells that are already on your body, and you convert them back into stem-cells, and then you reprogram them. They're still researching this method, but it certainly will take a while.

An interesting thing they're trying to do right now is to make life from nothing, like how it all happened in the past (if you believe the theory). They've barely started researching this at the moment, and they probably won't make much progress for a while to come.

Another interesting alternative they're trying to do right now is to make bio-computers. Basically, living computers, which they intend to make for personal use, but for things that use a lot of processing. If they actually make this method work, it could be used in the medical field as tiny bio-microcomputers that can be put together to act as cells, and basically be programmed like stem-cells. We might not even have to use bio-computers; normal microcomputers might work as well.

That's about all there is, at the moment. If technology improves, so will our understanding, and maybe newer and even better alternatives will pop up.

More about this author: Leon Li

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