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Katie Nuzzi

Mrs. Kashinsky
Biology Block D
12 November 2015

Stem Cells: Improving the Quality of Life


According to Constance Stein, Stem cells are the undifferentiated cells that have the
capability of self replication as well as being able to give rise to diverse types of differentiated or
specialized cell lines. These undeveloped cells are currently being used as a cure for tissuedestroying illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. However, there is controversy because of the
mixed results of stem cell studies.
Diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, and other forms of dementia affect the ability
to speak, remember information, and many other brain functions. However stem cells are able to
replace the damaged brain tissue, and may be the cure to these devastating illnesses. The
University of California, the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, and the Institute for
Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders conducted a study in which they transplanted
neural stem cells into the damaged brain tissue of mice suffering from dementia with Lewy
bodies (Stem Cell Treatment). DLB [dementia with Lewy bodies] is the second-most common
type of age-related dementia,...this... impairs the normal function of neurons, leading to
alterations in critical brain chemicals and neuronal communication and, eventually, to cell
death, according to Mental Health Weekly Digest. The results of the study showed that the mice
with transplanted neural stem cells experienced an exceptional improvement in their motor and
cognitive skills (Stem Cell Treatment). Additional studies have shown that stem cells may be
able to cure diabetes better than other treatments. One diabetic patient with implanted pancreas

cells reported a test sack of cells that appeared to function correctly (Brian). Other diabetes
treatments involve checking the patients blood sugar daily and are not making progress on a real
cure. A doctor at the University of California named Robert Henry talks about stem cells, saying,
I am just so positive that this is the future.
Although stem cells may be the answer to curing many diseases, there are questions on
how ethical and effective these cells are. Cases have been reported where bone or cartilage was
formed in unwanted places by stem cells. One woman in Portugal with paralysis located nasal
tissue in her spine because of her stem cell treatment. Doctors only found this unwanted tissue
eight years after her procedure was preformed, meaning stem cells can cause dangerous sideeffects even a long period of time after implantation (Graham). In another case, a Russian clinic
treated a teenager suffering from a nerve disorder with fetal stem cells. However, this patient
finished the treatment with a brain tumor, which was ultimately more dangerous than the nerve
disorder; this tumor also caused long term damage to the teen (Graham). Stem cells could
potentially be creating more illnesses than they are curing because of their unpredictability.
Treatments using stem cells may be dangerous, however I feel that they are solving many
tissue-destroying and life-changing diseases that were once thought almost incurable. More cases
have been reported successful than unsuccessful, and even diseases such as diabetes are closer
than ever to a cure. Those with illnesses such as chronic pain, a missing limb, or memory loss
find life-changing solace in stem cells because they are free to enjoy life without the weight of a
handicapping disease. With further development, even ocular diseases such as blindness can be
cured. In a study where rats were treated with a form of stem cells, improved visual function was
gained (Stem Cells in the Treatment). Stem cells are the first step to relief from lethal illnesses.

Based on the results of many successful studies on stem cells, I conclude that these cells
may be the cure to many life-threatening diseases and should continue to be used in trials and
research. Although stem cells are still experimental, they could improve the quality of life for
many who suffer from long-term illnesses.

Works Cited
Alexander, Brian. "Beating Diabetes: Pancreatic Tissue Grown from Stem Cells is being
Implanted in Some Patients." Technology Review [Cambridge, Mass.] May-June 2015:
16+. Science in Context. Web.
Graham, Tyler. The Cure-All: Are New Stem Cell Therapies Miracles in a Bottle--or Just a

Dangerous Form of Snake Oil? Popular Science, June 2015: 58+. Science in Context.
Web.
Stein, Constance. "Stem Cells." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and
Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. 5th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014. Science in
Context.

Web.

"Stem Cell Treatment Lessens Impairments Caused by Dementia with Lewy Bodies." Mental
Health Weekly Digest. 2 Nov. 2015: 203. Science in Context. Web.
Stem Cells in the Treatment of Ocular Disease. Optician. 24 July 2015. Science in Context.
Web.