A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

Stem Cell Research

Posted by ssbg on December 31, 2005

by Dawn Vargo   from:                     0stemcells.jpg

New studies threaten to undermine everything you’ve been told about embryonic stem cell research. The following is a must read for anyone interested in the whole story on stem cell research.

Every new study on embryonic stem cells produces an onslaught of optimistic articles confidently proclaiming that with just a little more time and a lot more public money embryonic stem cells will provide cures for dozens of diseases and hope for millions of sick patients. Meanwhile, stories highlighting adult stem cell successes seem less optimistic and much less prominent. Casual observers might reasonably conclude that embryonic stem cells hold the most promise while adult stem cells are of secondary interest. They would be wrong.

Embryonic stem cells are often touted as the most promising research option because they are a “blank slate” capable of differentiating (changing and specializing) into all the cells of the body. Less well known is that adult stem cells have the same ability to change into every kind of cell, tissue, and organ in the body. Yes, you read that correctly: one of the main reasons embryonic stem cells are flaunted as the gold standard in research is their ability to change into every cell type. Yet, adult stem cells have the same capacity.

In other words, adult stem cells can do everything embryonic stem cells can do:

1. Adult stem cells are flexible: Like embryonic ones, they can change into every cell type of the body. Rsearchers often refer to this ability to specialize into every cell type as pluripotency.

2. Adult stem cells’ flexibility show new potential to treat disease: Studies demonstrate that in addition to diseases already being treated with adult stem cells, the recently discovered and often ignored flexibility of adult stem cells offer additional possibilities to cure disease.

Contrary to the exclusive claims of embryonic stem cell proponents, the following compilation of research demonstrates the flexibility of adult stem cells to transform into a wide range of specialized cells – just like embryonic ones. 

Terms to Know 

Differentiate – a scientific word to describe how something changes and specializes. Normally used to describe how “young” cells change into mature cells with special functions.

Germ layer – within a developing embryo, there are three germ layers that provide the ability for the embryo to change into all the cells of the body. Embryonic stem cells have the ability to change into cells from all three germ layers – this means they can differentiate into every part of the body. There are three distinct germ layers in humans: endoderm (internal layer), mesoderm (middle layer), and ectoderm (external layer).

Conventional knowledge says that adult stem cells are not as promising as embryonic stem cells because they lack these embryonic germ layers that can form all of the body’s 200+ cells (skin cells, muscle tissue, internal organs, etc). However, a growing body of research shows that adult stem cells have an “embryonic” ability to differentiate.

Adult stem cells – there is a wide variety of adult stem cells including bone marrow stem cells, nasal stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, etc. These types of adult stem cells are normally identified by where they are located (bone marrow stem cells are found in bone marrow, blood stem cells in the blood, etc).

Flexible Stem Cells
The following summaries document the ability of adult stem cells to develop into cells outside of their original cell family.1

Baby Teeth
• Baby teeth are a rich source of stem cells. Stem cells from dental pulp can differentiate into neural, fat, and tooth-forming cells.2

• Adult stem cells taken from the blood can differentiate into liver and nerve cells.3

• White blood cells taken from patients can produce other types of stem cells; newly formed cells included red and white blood cells, nerve cells and heart muscle.4

Bone Marrow
• Bone marrow stem cells can make significant amounts of new lung tissue.5

• Bone marrow stem cells can change into epithelial cells when transplanted into the lung.6

• Bone marrow stem cells can be put into various tissues and organs. This research could provide a model for future lung stem cell work.7

• Bone marrow stem cells from men were implanted into women. They found that the women had brain cells with the Y chromosome. This shows that bone marrow stem cells can turn into brain cells.8

• A specific type of cells (multipotent adult progenitor cells – MAPCs) has been found in bone marrow. These can specialize into cells from all three germ layers. This study found that these cells can be isolated not only from bone marrow but also from brain and muscle tissue.9

• Stem cells from bone marrow have the capacity to develop into all cell types in the human body including those that make up the glands, digestive tract, hair, skin, nails, brain, nervous system, and muscle. 10

• Bone marrow stem cells can turn into nerve cells; contrary to previous belief, these bone marrow stem cells did not merely fuse with nerve cells, they changed into nerve cells without any cell fusion.11

• Pluripotent (able to change into all cell types) bone marrow stem cells can change into insulin-secreting cells.12

• Researchers in Miami once again found that bone marrow stem cells can change into all cells of the body.13

• A single bone marrow stem cell can turn into marrow, blood, liver, lung, gastrointestinal tract, skin, heart, and skeletal muscle.14

• Cells taken from the bone marrow are able to generate new egg production in the ovaries. This finding has significant implications for the long-held belief that females are born with a limited number of eggs that declines throughout life15

Cord Blood
• Cord blood cells, a type of adult (also known as non-embryonic) stem cells that come from the umbilical cords of newborns, contain mesenchymal stem cells. These mesenchymal stem cells can change into skeletal muscle cells.16

• A special type of umbilical cord blood stem cells (called unrestricted somatic stem cells – USSCs) can change into all cells from all three germ layers. This means they can specialize into all of the cells in the body including brain, bone, cartilage, liver, heart, and blood cells.17

• A recently discovered type of cord blood stem cells, cord-blood-derived embryonic-like stem cells or CBEs, have the capability of turning into any kind of body tissue 18

• Stem cells found in the outer lining of the umbilical cord have been successfully differentiated into specific cells such as skin, bone and fat.19


2 Responses to “Stem Cell Research”

  1. Steve, Head Sheep said

    Good article. Now the challenge or charge is to get Christians and pro-lifers to lobby for legislation and funding of adult stem cell research.

  2. rtryurhs5 said

    Here are some links that I believe will be interested

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