Q. 20

Medical science took a giant step forward when it declared its capability to store stem cells. Stem cells can be used later on to treat certain diseases if need arises. Along with many Western countries. India also has the facility for storage of stem cell and for use of the same for therapy. Scientists’ are trying their best to maximize the benefit from storage of stem cells.

(i) What is the main source of stem cells?

(ii) What are the diseases that can be treated by storing stem cells?

(iii) What value is shown by the scientists?

Answer :

(i) There are two main sources of stem cells, the umbilical cord and the bone marrow.

EXPLANATION: Stem cells are special type of human cells which have the potential to develop into various different cell types unlike other cells of human. For example: they can form brain cells from muscle cells or vice versa. These stem cells come from the umbilical cord blood, and hence are called hematopoietic (blood) stem cells. They are specialized to form any type of blood cell like RBCs, WBC and platelets. Because of these humans are able to maintain continuous blood production throughout their lives. These stem cells also arise from bone marrow, which can be called as production house of stem cells. The stem cells reside inside the bone marrow and they released into the bloodstream after they are fully mature. This is from where stem cells come, form blood cells of our whole body and fight against diseases and infections.

(ii) The stem cells can be used in all types of tissues, cells in our body like they can help in forming nervous tissues for patients with neurological disorders, pancreatic cells formation for patients with pancreatic diseases and cardiac muscles formation for patients with heart issues. They can also be used to compensate the loss of blood cells in the human body for example in diseases like thalassemia in which a lot of RBC’s gets destroyed and in leukemia and lymphoma, a lot of WBC’s die losing the ability to protect body thus causing blood cancer. Now a day’s stem cells are also used in transplants for curing stem cells.

EXPLANATION: When a baby is born, the placenta/umbilical cord blood is stored as it is highly rich in stem cells. The stem cells in the spongy part of bone marrow can also be stored for the future cure. These bone marrow and cord blood transplants can provide life to severe life-threatening diseases which are leading to heavy loss of blood cells from the body thus making the immune system highly weak. These stored stem cells can be used to generate new cells in cancer patients whose own cells are damaged or are not functioning. They also help to regenerate damaged tissues and hence may benefit in several disease cure. For example: if a person has cardiac disease, then these stem cells be inserted in the heart muscle so that it can lead to repairing of the defective heart cells.

(iii) According to scientists, there is much more to know about stem cells in the coming future. The research is going on to decipher different capabilities of stem cells in curing diseases. Though there are several challenges in therapies concerning stem cells as sometimes the receiver’s body rejects the transplanted stem cells. Scientists are dealing with similar different challenges to overcome them and build a curable future for mankind.

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