Stem Cells : Developing Technology for Better Health

By Jilby AJ

Photo :discovermagazine
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                  Being a healthy person is much better than being a wealthy person. Health can never be bought by wealth.A healthy person has a happy and peaceful mind and body. Even with a huge sum of money, a disturbed body cannot help. Being healthy is very important. Studies have proven that our lifestyle affects our health. Having a good lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise helps us in having good health, free from usual lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, increased /decreased blood pressure, cholesterol,etc.

             Technological developments have numerous stepping stones in the field of health care. Various techniques have developed in the healthcare field, which were once considered untreatable. Stem Cell Technology is one such technique. It is the technique using stem cells, which has the ability to divide and form different types of cells.

              Stem cells are said to be of three different types, which includes embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Each type has its own functions. Embryonic stem cells are those stem cells which provide necessary cells for an embryo to develop into a baby. These cells are said to be pluripotent, ie, they have the ability to develop into any cell in the body. Adult stem cells provide the necessary cells for a growing adult. These stem cells replace the damaged cells. These cells are said to be multipotent, ie,they have the ability to develop into a few types of cells only, they can’t develop into any type of cell. Now moving on to the induced pluripotent cells, these are the stem cells made by the scientists in the laboratories providing the necessary conditions. Like embryonic cells, these stem cells are also pluripotent. They are made by taking the normal adult stem cells.These stem cells have many uses.

             Since stem cells divide to form specialized cells, it can be used to replace damaged cells or tissues. It is very much useful in the medical field. Patients having various problems in their specific cells or tissues can make use of this stem cell technology.Stem cells are of different types, so studies are needed to be conducted to find the particular cell type and the necessary stem cells. If the newly introduced stem cell doesn’t match, the patient will have adverse effects. Due to such unscientific practices, the innocent will have to suffer.

               Stem cells of specialized types are used to regenerate damaged organs. When there is a case of organ damage in patients, the solution usually found is organ transplantation. The particular organ from the donor is introduced into the patient’s body, but in some cases the patient’s immune system rejects the donated organ. In such cases, stem cell technology may help. The stem cells from the chosen particular organ are allowed to grow and undergo division and specialization to form the organ, which may be replaced by the damaged organ in the patient’s body.

                  Stem cells have many such uses. Some people may have problems in their eyes. Their retinal pigment epithelium may get damaged, due to which it may stop working and therefore they may lose their vision. In such cases, induced pluripotent stem cells can be used to regrow the retinal pigment epithelial cells, so that they can be introduced into the patient’s eye. So it gives back their lost vision.

            Some people suffering from diseases such as thalassaemia and cancer, may have lost their own healthy blood stem cells during their treatment. In such cases, normal blood stem cells can be introduced into their body, which aids in the production of normal blood cells. In the same way, people who have severe burns in their skin, can get a new skin by the introduction of their normal skin stem cells.

             Every cell in the human body has its own specialized functions. In the same way, red blood cells carry oxygen in all parts of the body. The deficiency of red blood cells can cause various health issues. The situation can be overcomed with the help of introducing new healthy red blood stem cells. Bone-marrow transplantation is done, which is one of the best examples of stem cell therapy. Bone marrow is the place where different types of blood cells are produced, so its transplantation aids in the normal blood cell production.

               These stem cells are also useful in the field of research. The culture and studies upon them helps us understand how these living things work and what are the different changes that occur in different types of cells when they are diseased.Reconstruction of different organs in the laboratories can help us check the effect of various drugs on various organs, how does it work?, what are the impacts?, etc. And also, other studies can also be conducted such as, whether it is useful in few other diseases such as diabetes, heart-disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury etc. Treatments can be conducted according to these study reports. All these studies make use of the stem cells.

                  Since every coin has two sides, this stem cell technology also has both positive and negative effects.Stem cell technology is currently a widely popular biomedical practice. They have many uses such as, they replace the damaged cells, tissues or organs, without getting rejected by the patient’s immune system. It can be useful in various researches and studies which can enhance the medical knowledge, according to which various confusions can be solved. Various drugs can be tested upon these organs formed from the stem cells. etc. Demerits include stem cell tourism. Due to the wide popularity and usage, stem cell tourism becomes one of the unethical businesses. Stem cells have not proven to be effective for a few therapies, but still they are being used, which causes damage for innocent people.

                   There are many technologies widely developing to aid better health care. All of these techniques have their own uses, it should be used only accordingly, after research and studies, with full care. If not, the damage that it causes may be the loss of life for many innocent people. So it should never be allowed as a method of business. All these are for the betterment of our health care practices.

     Being healthy

     is not a result of business,

     It is a blessing!

By Jilby AJ



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