Term PAPAER for bioengineering 10

Term PAPAER for bioengineering 10 - The Hope of Stem Cell...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
the Battle against Parkinson’s disease Christine Probst: #53, December 12, 2006 Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive condition that affects more than 2% of people over the age of 65 (1). PD is caused through the decay of dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain stem (2). Quality of life among PD patients is compromised by symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, bradykinsia (slowness of movement) and postural instability. Although medications to partially renew mobility are currently available, no cure to this disease has been found (3). However, scientists are hopeful that stem cell research will lead to an effective treatment. Through past experimentation, in vitro differentiation and proliferation of embryonic stem cells into dopamine producing neurons has been made possible. Still, a plethora of scientific as well as political obstacles are yet to be overcome. Fluctuations in the U.S. government have made it nearly impossible to secure steady financial grants, as this medical research has become entangled with the abortion debate (4). Recently, individual states have taken the initiative to support stem cell research. Californians voted yes on proposition 71, which secured $3 billion in financial aid for future stem cell research (6). With this money, an expected “gold rush” of scientific breakthroughs regarding the treatment of debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes is expected (2,4). Whether or not this is the case, this initiative serves as a beacon of hope for both scientists and patients (2). What Are Stem Cells? By definition, stem cells are primitive, undifferentiated cells with the ability to replicate or differentiate into specialized cells (8). Also, stem cells are capable of dividing themselves for long periods of time; whereas specialized cells found the heart or nervous system rarely reproduce (1). This is because differentiated cells can only undergo a limited number of divisions before dying, a discovery made by Leonard Hayflick in 1965 (9). Stem cells fall into three major categories: determined stem cells, totipotent stem cells, and pluripotent stem cells. Determined stem cells are cells in which the genetic potential is limited, and can only differentiate into some types of cells. Totipotent stem cells are only found in the embryo, and they can generate all types of cells within an organism. Pluripotent stem cells have all the same capabilities as totipotent cells, yet they are unable to reproduce the stem cells found during early embryonic stages (7). All tissues contain a stem cell compartment that produces cellular offspring that differentiate into all tissue phenotypes. These cells are extremely important in maintaining the homeostasis within different organs, as they can replace damaged or lost cells. Stem cell depletion, due to disease or
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 07/02/2008 for the course BIOENGR Bio 10 taught by Professor Tawil during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

Page1 / 13

Term PAPAER for bioengineering 10 - The Hope of Stem Cell...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online