Stem Cells

Gene mutations and genetic modifications

By Ella Ottaviano

What are stem Cells?

Stem cells are cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide (through mitosis) and differentiate into diverse specialised cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells.

What do stem cells have to do with genetic mutation?

Genetic modification, is the direct manipulation of an organism's hereditary information using biotechnology. Due to the fact that you are taking the cells of an organism and modifying them this is genetic modification.

How does it work?

Due to the cell's ability to specialise in to many different cell types, stem cells are harvested and placed in the optimal conditions to stimulate the growth of a particular cell type.

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What are the ethical issues surrounding stem cells?

The overwhelming objection to stem cell research is that it often involves the destruction of an embryo or foetus. For many this constitutes destruction of a potential human, and conflicts with religious and moral views held in our society.

For some people, the potential for this research to provide treatments and possibly cures for debilitating illnesses that have no cure and significantly impact on our way of life overrides the concern for the destruction of the embryo.