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What is Embryonic Stem Cell?

Meaning of Embryonic Stem Cell

Stem cells are cells with the capacity to self-replicate/proliferate, that is, to divide and differentiate, giving rise to other cell types with specialized functions.

There are different types of stem cells, among which we have: embryonic stem cells, fetal stem cells, IPs (induced pluripotent stem cells) or adult stem cells, this classification depends on the type of cell and its origin.

Stem cells can also be classified according to their potential, such as totipotent cells, which generate all types of cells; pluripotent embryonic sources extracted from the internal part of the blastocyst, these can originate all the cells that form an embryo; and multipotent cells are cells with less differentiation capacity, that is, the number of specialized cells that can be generated is limited.

Embryonic stem cells are extracted from the donor in the morula phase of the zygote.

These are totipotent and have a great capacity to transform into other types of cells, even to generate a complete individual. Although they have this important ability, medical research with this type of cell is still in the testing phase.

These cells were first isolated in 1998 by Thomson and his collaborators and in 2006 a group of researchers managed to obtain them from the skeletal muscle of a mouse.

Shortly after, in 2009, a research group in the United States began research in an attempt to differentiate embryonic stem cells into oligodendrocytes, cells present in the nervous system, for the treatment of spinal cord injuries, and in 2010 More research has been published in the US for the possible treatment of Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (a disease caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the central region of the retina called the macula).

Many scientists believe that stem cells will be used in the future in various pathologies such as leukemia, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and even Alzheimer’s.

Studies are being carried out for the regeneration of tissues, organs, muscles and nerves and very soon with the application of this type of treatment it will be possible to print organs in 3D using stem cells, this would help reduce the waiting lines for transplantation of organs.

Although the future of stem cells is promising, we still have many obstacles to overcome, including fully understanding its molecular aspects and ethical issues.

Although progress is continuous, this type of research receives constant criticism from different sectors of society, mainly for religious reasons.

Some religious believe that embryos are a living being in formation and because they are alive, they consider that the practice of research is manipulative and sacrificial, therefore murder.

In these ethical implications it is important to relate the different arguments, both conservative and progressive, for the consolidation of an opinion of good and evil.

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