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Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic Stem Cells are typically but not exclusively derived from Embryos in a culture dish. They may not always reproduce but once they do, additional culture dishes can be populated with more Embryonic Stem Cells. This process can take place over several months.

Embryonic Stem Cells are cells which have not become specific to any organ or purpose (it is known as ‘differentiation’ when they do).

These replicating Embryonic Stem Cells that remain as Stem Cells are known as ‘pluripotent’. As long as they remain pluripotent (undifferentiated) then the original Embryonic Stem Cells can continue to produce millions of new Embryonic Stem Cells over months and months.

The longer the Embryonic Stem Cells continue reproducing, without ‘differentiating’, and remain as pluripotent stem cells, the more the cells are showing themselves to be good quality, and to be capable of long-term growth and renewal.

  • Transcription factors turn genes off and on at the right stage, signalling the Embryonic Stem Cell to renew itself as another Embryonic Stem Cell. The main two transcription factors are Nanog and Oct 4. These are the two main transcription factors that have the effect of maintaining the cells in an Embryonic Stem Cell state.

In order to create specific types of cells (differentiated cells) such as heart cells or muscle cells, scientists can modify the cell’s signalling by inserting specific genes. As scientists learn which genes have what effect, much like a cook knows the correct ingredients for a particular meal, so eventually scientists will be able to instruct an Embryonic Stem Cell to develop into a ‘differentiated’ cell of any type, to order – e.g. muscle cells, brain cells, cells for specific organs, and more.

Diseases that are in line for treatment using new Embryonic Stem Cell technology include diabetes, heart disease, hearing loss, eyesight, and spinal injuries.

An Embryonic Stem Cell can divide into any of the 220 different cell types in the human body, in order to assist the healing of existing cells in the body. Stem Cells can be injected into the blood stream or directly into the relevant organ that needs treatment. Within an hour, the body starts to repair its damaged organs. The process of healing can be seen up to 10 days after treatment. Additional injections and treatments may be needed.

There are ethical considerations with using Embryonic Stem Cells derived from an Embryo which has meant such treatments have not become readily available – until a new way of developing Embryonic Stem Cells without using Embryos was discovered.

Embryonic Stem Cells derive from a blastocyst which is the stage an Embryo is at, five days after the egg and spermatozoa have fused.

  • Until ten years ago, the only way to produce a blastocyst and generate Embryonic Stem Cells from the blastocyst was to take eggs from a human woman, collect sperm from a human male, and then fertilize the egg in laboratory conditions. Major ethical considerations concerning the destruction of human life put paid to a mass adoption of this technique.

Today scientists do not need to use human eggs and sperm to produce a blastocyst. Scientists can produce an egg from your own skin cells They are then able to fuse the egg created from your skin cell, with a skin cell to produce an embryo.

This means Embryonic Stem Cells today can be produced from your own skin cells using advanced scientific steps. The effect is to transform old living cells into young, effective Embryonic Stem Cells tailored to your own treatment needs.

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