Pros And Cons Of Embryonic Stem Cells

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Why is there such an interest in embryonic stem cells? Unlike other stem cells, embryonic stem cells are pluripotent and have the ability to differentiate into any specialized cell in the body that can be used to regenerate or repair damaged tissues (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Due to this potential, embryonic stem cells have raised much prospect in regenerative medicine and biomedical research. Although embryonic stem cells have stirred much controversy over the years due to the risks of translating them into the clinical setting, such as the formation of teratomas and immune rejections, the potentials of embryonic stem cells are also numerous including myocardial regeneration and pharmacological testing. One risk that is associated with transplanting…show more content…
One of these potentials involves myocardial regeneration. It is already known that embryonic stem cells have the ability to replace diseased and damaged tissues. This is of particular interest in cardiovascular medicine because the loss of differentiated adult cardiomyocytes, such as in a heart attack, are mostly irreplaceable (Gepstein et al, ).Furthermore, embryonic stem cells can provide an “unlimited number of human cardiac cells for transplantation” (Gepstein et al,) and lead to characterization such as, “resistance to ischemia (an inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body, especially the heart muscles.), apoptosis, and improved contractile function” (Wei-Zhong Zhu et al, ). Researchers have also found evidence that embryonic stem cells contain myocytes portraying structural and functional properties consistent with early-stage cardiac tissue. ES-derived cardiomyocytes also express a number of cardiomyocyte-specific genes, including “the transcription factors GATA and Nkx2.5, which play a significant role in heart formation in vertebrates” (Kehat et al, 2001). Although the aspect of being able to replace cardiac tissue is very promising, there are many obstacles that still have to be passed to fully utilize the potential of embryonic stem cells. One of these obstacles is that the human embryonic stem cells have to be differentiated into the cardiac lineage (Gepstein et al,), thus researchers need to develop strategies to direct differentiation into that line of cells. Another obstacle that needs to be overcome is the purity of cardiomyocytes. Researchers need to device protocols that allow generation of a pure population of cardiomyocytes and avoid presence of other cell derivatives or remaining pluripotent stem cells (Gepstein et al,). Other milestones that need to be achieved are

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