Stem cells also hold great potential for usefulness in the area of research. The following are some of the biological topics stem cell research might shed light on:
Developmental Human Biology
The study of this topic is constrained by practical and ethical limitations. Human ES cells may allow the investigation of how early human cells become committed to the major lineages of the body, which form the myriad of functional cell types in the adult. This knowledge will help many fields. For example, the field of cancer biology will benefit as it is now thought that many cancers originate from abnormalities in the normal developmental processes. Human ES cells will also help in the study of birth defects .
Pluripotent stem cells could be used to generate unlimited supplies of tissues and organs. These stem cell products could theoretically restore function without immunosuppression and tissue matching. Stem cells derived transplants of the skin, heart, kidneys, and other major organs could make a huge impact on society.
Genetic material that prompts a necessary biochemical process or encodes a missing protein, can be introduced into organ stem cells in order to achieve long term expression and therapeutic effect. The ‘immortal’ proliferative capacity of stem cells could overcome the problems of loss and insufficient expression of a gene, which gene therapy procedures currently face .
Models of Human Disease Constrained by Animal and Cell Culture Models
ES cells might provide cell and tissue types to study those pathogenic diseases and viruses such as hepatitis C that grow only in human or chimpanzee cells .
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