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Stem Cell-Based Therapy

Embryonic stem cells can treat diseases and disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). PD is characterized by the progressive death of dopamine-producing neurons in the part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. The neurons in this area produce dopamine, which is essential for normal movement. Cells derived from embryonic stem cells can replace or “repair” these dying neurons. Unlike the degenerating neurons, these replacement stem cells do not contain any damaged DNA and, thus, can be used multiple times to heal damage to the brain caused by PD.

According to Dr. Paolo Macchiarini from Italy, the use of stem cells has allowed neurologists to reach new understandings about this disease. About 2-3 years ago, the field of neurology did not have an “agnostic” approach to PD. “We all came to the conclusion that Parkinson’s is a 100% fatal illness. We were not interested in finding a cure because we knew it was going to be impossible,” said Dr. Macchiarini at his presentation on research at Stanford University in March 2011. To change their approach to finding and identifying other PD treatment possibilities, Dr. Macchiarini and his team tried to understand the differences between the neurons of people who had PD and those who had died from other causes.

Embryonic stem cells can treat diseases and disorders such as spinal cord injury (SCI). A spinal cord injury (SCI) is any damage to the spinal cord. The spinal nerves control the muscles, organs, and other body parts but also provide important functions such as sensory perception and movement. An SCI occurs when the protective covering outside your spine is damaged. For example, it can happen when an object hits you in traffic or a bullet. It can also happen with a disease such as ALS or multiple sclerosis. In these cases, it involves damage to nerves outside your spine rather than within it.

Embryonic stem cells are derived from human embryos that have already been created for in vitro fertilization (IVF) through IVF techniques. They are extracted (usually from 3-5 day-old embryos) and grown in culture for 5 to 6 days – this is usually sufficient time for their cellular divisions to be completed. To produce high-quality ES cells, the couple’s genomes must not be donated into the embryos: such genomes might be inherited by offspring, potentially creating genetically modified humans.

Embryonic stem cells are generated in laboratories from embryos created for in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF creates an embryo by combining a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm in a laboratory. In vitro means “in glass” or “in the test tube,” (Volarevic et al., 2018). Using human embryos for stem cell research has raised many ethical issues and is controversial because of its association with abortion. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research have expressed concern over the use of human embryos, which are human life, in such a manner that they might be harmed or destroyed. For example, when scientists inject ES cells into an embryo, they might unintentionally harm the embryo; this could be regarded as destroying human life. Others have also raised concerns about the potential possibility of genetic engineering, which involves the biological alteration of a person’s genetics.

Two methods are used to extract ES cells: the inner cell mass, which consists of the cells that will form the embryo, must be removed to extract the ES cells. Removing this mass often results in the death of this part of the embryo, but it is vital for stem cell research. To obtain a high yield of quality ES cells, embryos must be genetically identical. Scientists can create two types of embryos by fertilizing eggs with sperm carrying either no genetic material (N) or only half genetic material (H). These embryos are then grown in culture until they reach the 7-day developmental stage. At this point, the inner cell mass is removed.

The controversy surrounding the therapeutic use of embryonic stem cells for research has been going on for a long time, ever since scientists first developed the technology to extract and grow ES cells from human embryos. To do this, embryos have to be destroyed, which is an ethical concern.

There are many different opinions regarding the ethical and moral issues of using embryonic stem cells. The different opinions include pro-life and pro-choice supporters. The pro-life advocates believe they should not be used therapeutically because they are human life. The pro-choice advocates believe it is their choice to use or not use their embryos for therapeutic purposes. The pro-choice advocates have stated that they will not use any embryos in this research.

Using ES cells for scientific research should be encouraged because it has many benefits for future generations. This can be accomplished by creating embryos with donated DNA instead of genetic material from the couple who created the embryo (whose genomes might otherwise be passed on to offspring).

Human embryos created in the lab, most commonly through IVF, are the main source of ES cells. IVF is a process used to create embryos by combining a woman’s egg with a man’s sperm in a laboratory. These embryos are created for research but also for IVF if the couple does not have time to create their embryos. The researchers use this method because it permits them to control the genetic makeup of the embryos and creates genetically identical embryos. Defining what percentage of human cells is needed to create qualities ES cells varies from research institution to research institution; however, all scientists agree that it is at least 50%.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Introduction to stem cells. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

Volarevic, V., Markovic, B. S., Gazdic, M., Volarevic, A., Jovicic, N., Arsenijevic, N., Armstrong, L., Djonov, V., Lako, M., & Stojkovic, M. (2018, January 1). Ethical and safety issues of stem cell-based therapy. International journal of medical sciences. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from


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