When cancer infiltrates a system of specialised cells in a multicellular organism, it creates chaos. While methods of removing cancer do exist, these methods are not always effective; in fact, sometimes these methods can cause more harm than good. Stem cells are a modernised, somewhat unexplored method of cancer treatment, and have the potential to
What are stem cells, anyway, and where do they come from?
As seen in the article: Cells: The Fundamentals of Stem Cells (http://sciencious.com/cells-the-fundamentals-of-stem-cells/),), the origins and purpose of stem cells are explained more in-depth. Concisely, stem cells are derived from zygote cells – the result of a fertilised ovum cell with a sperm cell – with the intent of using it for medical purposes, such as regeneration. Stem cells must be capable of self-renewal (the undergoing of cell division to make more stem cells) and cell differentiation into mature cell types (SITN Harvard, 2014).
So, what is the difference between stem cells and ordinary cells? Just like stem cells, your ordinary cells must be capable of self-renewal. But here is where stem cells and ordinary cells collide: stem cells are capable of cell differentiation into mature cell types, while ordinary cells are already mature cell types. Regular cells are already specialised and work in a team of cells to perform a task, such as form tissues for an organ system. These cells are then able to work in unison to maintain efficiency in a multicellular organism.
When cancer is formed, as seen in the article: Cells: The Formation of Cancer (http://sciencious.com/cells-the-formation-of-cancer/), it takes over organ systems by going through cell division at an extremely high rate, intake an immense amount of energy, and stop performing their specialised functions as cells. This causes the other specialised cells to be outnumbered by the cancer cells and eventually go through apoptosis, or cell death. Stem cells are utilised for the treatment of cancer by mimicking the natural specialised cells with the ability to proliferate to outnumber the cancer cells, until the cancer cells are destroyed or cannot access energy to support itself.
The stem cells can also be purposefully designed to use a high amount of energy that can offset the energy intake of the cancer cells, before the (previously) stem cells go through intended apoptosis. While the effects of stem-cell-based cancer treatment on cancer can still be refuted, the science behind the treatment of cancer using stem cells is thoroughly justified.
Science In The News (2014). Stem cells: a brief history and outlook. [Accessed 31 March 2021]. Available at: https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/stem-cells-a-brief-history-and-outlook-2/
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