Adult stem cells can be found in tissues in the body, including, marrow, skin, brain, skeletal muscle and liver cells. An adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell that can replicate itself and repair a damaged tissue. Having said this, scientists believe that adult stem cells can play a significant role in the science of medicine. However, despite the potential benefits attributed to these cells, there are also criticisms about them. Here are the contentious views from two opposing groups:
List of Pros of Adult Stem Cells
1. Used for Transplants
Proponents of the use of adult stem cells posit that for decades, stem cells from the bone marrow have been used for transplants. These are blood-forming cells, also known as adult hematopoetic cells. And since new evidence that they can also be inside the brain and heart, there is a big possibility for scientists can do further research studies to use these cells for therapies based on transplantation.
2. Lesser Possibility of Rejection
Supporters of the use of adult stem cells for transplantation claim that since these cells come from the patient’s own cells, it is less likely for the cells to reject the transplanted cells. This characteristic makes adult stem cells perfect candidates for this procedure.
3. Can Cure Medical Conditions
Advocates for adult stem cells stress that they can be used for the treatment of some medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. By extracting adult stem cells, scientists can grow them directly in laboratories and be used to replace damaged cells like dopamine-producing as well as insulin-producing cells.
List of Cons of Adult Stem Cells
1. Limited Availabilty
Critics of the use of adult stem cells for transplantation argue that only a small number of stem cells from the tissue can be harvested from a person’s body. Moreover, once they are removed, divisibility of these cells is limited, which can be challenging, in terms of generating larger amounts of cells. And since these cells are mature as opposed to embryonic cells, the chances of DNA anomalies are higher since they have been exposed to environment and toxins as they age.
2. One Harvest, One Treatment
Another skepticism about the effectiveness of adult stem cells for transplantation is that once these cells are harvested, they can only be used for a particular treatment, say, to replace insulin-producing cells. If a patient gets inflicted with another medical disorder, these cells cannot be used anymore.
3. Expensive and Invasive
Apart from the difficulty of harvesting stem cells, the procedure can also be costly such as in hip replacements. It is also an invasive procedure, according to some critics and even if there are companies advertising inexpensive stem cell harvesting, it still costs money. This is also an issue on stem cells harvested and stored for future use. Critics say that the fee for storing cells can be high and patients are at risk of wasting money if the firm closes down.
Adult stem cells will play a major role in the field of medicine with continuous research. However, there will still be controversies surrounding it. By weighing their pros and cons, scientists will be able to develop more ways to maximize the potential of these cells and use it for the betterment of lives.