Why are embryonic stem cells important?
Embryonic stem cells are cells derived from the inner cell mass of a mammalian embryo, at a very early stage of development.
Embryonic cells from humans and certain other mammalian species can be grown in tissue cultures. The human embryo stem cells form a wide variety of differentiated tissue in - vitro . It is presumed from their other properties that they are pleuripotent.
They are regarded as a possible source of differentiated cells for cell therapy. Replacement of patient's defective cell type with healthy cells could thus be possible e.g. large quantities of cells like dopamine secreting neurons for the treatment of Parkinson' s disease can be produced. Insulin secreting pancreatic cells for the treatment of diabetes can be produced for cell transplantation.
Due to their plasticity and potentially unlimited capacity for cell renewal, embryonic stem cells therapies have been proposed for regenerative medicine and tissue replacement after injury or disease.
Embryonic stem cells are employed as an useful tool for research . Diseases that could be potentially treated by pleuripotent stem cells include a number of blood and immune system related genetic diseases, cancers , blindness and spinal cord injuries.
The use of human embryo stem cells evokes ethical concern because the blastocysts stage of embryos is destroyed in the process of obtaining the stem cells.