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Home » Dave’s DiegesesApril 2005 » Dave’s Diegesis: Stemming the Tide

Dave’s Diegesis: Stemming the Tide

One topic that incites much furor and little understanding is stem cell research. With the ethical, religious, medical, and scientific interests that converge over this subject, many people find themselves taking sides without the access to unbiased information. Much of what is available is skewed towards the agenda of political groups.

To familiarize you with the terminology, there are many key definitions to learn. First, there are three classes of stem cells: pluripotent, multipotent, and totipotent.

Pluripotent stem cells come from human embryos a few days old. Once a cell “line” has been isolated and established, however, they can be used indefinitely in the laboratory, since they can proliferate without differentiation in vitro. Cell differentiation is the process where the features of a specialized cells are acquired.

Note that some adult stem cells, specifically hematopoietic cells, bone marrow stromal cells, and brain stem cells, are also pluripotent. Hematopoietic cells can develop into three major types of brain cells (neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes), skeletal muscle cells, cardiac muscle cells, and liver cells. Stromal cells may differentiate into cardiac muscle cells and skeletal muscle cells. Finally, brain stem cells can generate blood cells and skeletal muscle cells.

There are other stem cells originating from adults that are multipotent. They are further down the path of differentiation than pluri- and totipotent stem cells, and therefore their potential for treatment is limited. The potential supply of adult multipotent stem cells is much lower than other types of stem cells since they are more difficult to isolate and purify. Furthermore, these cells are more prone to mutations upon replication.

Finally, there are totipotent stem cells, which can originate all different cell types. An embryo is totipotent until around the 16-cell stage.

Stem cells are necessary for the experimental cell-based therapies that may eventually treat every known illness. These novel techniques induce stem cells to differentiate into the specific cell type required to repair damaged or depleted adult cell populations or tissues. Another aspect of stem cell research is uncovering the molecular and genetic controls of the process of cell differentiation to better manipulate the cells into the correct cell type needed.

Many have labeled stem cells as the holy grail of medicine, a panacea for all the infirmities that trouble people. However, significant barriers remain until cell-based therapies can be widely used, including overcoming technological, ethical, political, and religious limitations.

Perhaps someday stem cells can be used to stop Tom Carron’s male pattern baldness, correct Jerry Trupiano’s lack of depth perception, and adjust the ear deformities that plague the Ronan Tynans and Eric Friedes of the world. But, more importantly, stem cell research may possibly cure ailments such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, chronic heart disease, liver failure, cancer, spinal cord injuries, burns, stroke, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The amount of suffering these maladies cause is reason enough to further investigate cell-based therapies.

Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site, and in this case, beatlesfab4fan, a proponent of science alleviating human suffering. We all know how we suffer with one of Trupiano’s “way back” calls.


Wow.....I cant believe I rated a topic from Dave.....All kidding aside, it isnt Trupe's wayback calls that get to you..Its when he goes...."swing and theres A DRIVE.....wayback....WAYBACK......and its caught by Nixon 10 feet shy of the warning track"...."ahhh gee Joe, the wind really knocked that one down, didnt it???"(Too bad there is only a 2 mile wind and it is blowing OUT)

But to really get serious for a sec.,I think that if people understand SCR a little better that the may not be as adverse to the science involved, and with a little luck we may find cures for some of the worse ailments that surround us...

Time will tell...

Thanks Dave, and a big thank you to mp for a great DD....:)


Speaking of best non-calls in a baseball game ever, last night at the end of the first home game for the Nationals, they're down to the last out, two strikes on the batter, here's the pitch, the announcer bellows, "HE STRUCK HIM OUT!!!!" ... only it was a foul tip! Hilarious! Announcer claims he was just practicing. Good stuff.

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