Stem cell research has been a hot topic over the last decade. Most scientist, politicians and average citizens alike, agree that stem cell research is imperative for mankind. However, the issue of where we get these cells from, sparks controversy.
There are currently only a few sources of stem cells. Without debating on which form is best or most ethical, I will discuss why scientist are so keen on studying these cells.
Cells are coded by DNA to perform whatever task they are told. It could become a liver cell, skin cell or even a brain cell. The cells are also programed to grow only so big, so fast and live so long. These stem cells are basically "blank" cells. They are cells that have not been told what their job or function will be. So, let's imagine what could be done with these cells.
Neurological disorders affect millions of people in the US. Most of these are severe, disabling conditions. The problem with brain or spinal cord injuries involves re-growth. Even though our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) control our bodies, the cells and tissues do not heal once they are damaged. Imagine if every time you cut or bruised yourself, it never healed. This is the grim reality of neurological problems that millions of people live with everyday. Just for example, Cerebral Palsy, affects over 800,000 people in the US, with over 10,000 children being born with it every year. This is caused mostly by loss of oxygen to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. The symptoms that they child develop from this condition, never go away. Aside from children, we can see how many people are affected by brain and spinal cord injuries every year from accidents. Now, we also have to recognize the number of injuries to our brave soldiers, coming back from war. Let's also consider our older generation. They are inflicted with many neurological diseases such as: stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. All of these diseases are created by some disfunction in the brain. One last set of problems to think about are diseases of the eyes. Eye tissue come directly from the brain, therefore it does not heal either.
None of these diseases can heal, because brain or spinal cord tissue has been damaged and will not repair itself. What if there where a way?
If scientist can unlock the secrets of stem cells, they could code these cells artificially and there would be a good chance that brain and spinal cord tissue would be able to re-grow. People could re-gain eye sight, children could be normal and play; and parents could enjoy their little wonders. We could welcome our injured soldiers with the hope of walking again and help accident patients throw away their wheelchairs. For our parents and grandparents; they could grow old gracefully and leave this earth with dignity. Think of the tremendous life changing events that would take place for literally millions across the globe. The possibilities are endless.
There are many wonderful possibilities with stem cells. It might not help you, but it will most likely help someone you love. With this research, comes hope. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.-"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."