When you think about the future, not just your future, but the future of technology, the future of this planet, the future of medicine, the future of- well everything, what do your thoughts go to? Flying cars? Super high-tech gadgets and gizmos? A planet that is not corrupted by global warming? A future where cancer is cured? All of these are very futuristic hopes for our society; except one. Curing cancer. In the past couple of decades, new medical technology has emerged opening doors in all medical technologies and advancements. As the future tip-toes closer and closer to us, the last thing we want is to be caught off guard, so here are 10 Stem Cell myths that I'm about to debunk!
Like other arising trends, the facts are often confused with the myths. I hope to debunk a few myths or rumors that you heard about stem cells below!
1. Stem Cells Come Only from Dead Babies. The myth is decades old as it comes from one of the first ways of creating Stem Cells. Originally, scientists would harvest stem cells from embryos in the blastocyst stage, but that instantly killed them. This was a long and deadly process, so it was immediately banned. Now scientists have a new and innovative way of growing stem cells from proteins!
2. Embryos Are Created Just to Be Destroyed. A few human embryonic stem cell lines have been created from so-called research embryos — that is, embryos that were created for the sole purpose of deriving stem cells. However, for the vast majority of embryonic stem cell research, the cell lines are derived from extra blastocysts created for in vitro fertilization. When embryos are created in the scientific community regarding stem cells, very few of them are destroyed.
3. Stem Cells from Adults Can Do Everything Embryonic Stem Cells Can. Once upon a time when scientists did not know much about embryotic and adult stem cells, they thought that their functions were the same. As time progressed, they realized that embryonic stem cells could do a lot more than adult stem cells in regards to regeneration. Now, do not get me wrong, adult stem cells are amazing also! Researchers have learned a lot about connective tissue, blood formation, and regenerative properties of the liver and skin, thanks to adult stem cells. Lots of leukemia patients and people with some other blood disorders are alive today because doctors know how to transplant blood-forming stem cells from one person to another.
4. Embryonic stem cells are immortal. They can grow and regenerate for a long time; but eventually, embryos, like your body, start to show age. After a certain point, they have genetic changes that cause them to function worse than actual cells. This is when the body decides to throw out the old stem cells and create new ones.
5. Drug Therapies Can Replace Stem Cell Research. Advances in drug therapies do not eliminate the need for stem cell research. Many diseases remain incurable. For some diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s, the treatments in today’s pharmacological arsenal simply treat some of the symptoms, they most definitely do not cure them. These drugs mainly help manage the main and stress that comes along with a lot of these diseases, but they do not save the patient. Stem Cell research has the possibility to cure them someday in the future!
6. Stem Cells are a perfect gateway to cloning. Now, this is a possible future, but the likely hood of it is less than you are getting killed by a shark. Paranoia and government laws, rules, and regulations will never let that sort of future happen. Technology’s mere existence does not force its misuse. Human civilization has a long track record of tightening the reins on potentially dangerous technologies, and there is no reason to suppose that society’s grip on what is permissible and what is not will loosen when it comes to stem cell technology.
7. Stem Cells are not the future because no private investors have poured their money into them. Private research centers do not do basic research because to them it does not make much profit and revenue YET. It is a field that is on the rise, but the data needs to have a much stronger base. Since there is not already a source of revenue from the research, most private companies do not want to place their bets on this science yet.
8. Adult stem cell trials are curing so many diseases. The keyword to debunk there is trials. Since these are still trials, they are not sure if it will work. This is key because a lot of these trials are experiments, not solutions to these huge problems. The only reliable way to know if a therapy truly has a benefit that exceeds its risk is when it has been tested on large numbers of patients in double-blind clinical trials.
9. Embryonic research has produced no results so far. Researchers have spent almost 30 years working with mouse embryonic stem cells, which has given them enormously improved understanding of how cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems work in mammals, including humans. Scientists have used mice to create models of human diseases, and they have conducted some therapeutic experiments in mice using embryonic stem cells. Using mouse embryonic stem cells, scientists have gained enormous insights into tumor suppressors, cancer stem cells and so many other aspects of biology!
10. President Bush banned Stem Cell Research. Now, this is probably one of the biggest myths you’ll read about. President Bush didn’t ban stem cell research, he actually did the complete opposite! After he heard about Stem cell research, he funded it! On August 9, 2001, he announced a policy that allowed the federal government to finance research on embryonic stem cell lines that existed as of that date. While there was some confusion about how many lines were available and how to go about getting them, Bush’s policy was an enormous step forward for the field, and he deserves credit for implementing it.
Those were crazy! When the future is finally here and along with it Stem Cells, you’ll be ready with only the facts!