The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Stem Cells Yield Blood Cells

Over the past years, scientists have worked to come up with a way to produce blood cells from embryonic stem cells. Now they have found a way. Dr. Kaufman and team, at the University of Wisconsin, do not know exactly what caused the stem cells to take the form of blood cells. When the stem cells were grown in the presence of mouse bone marrow, the cells released an unknown signal that directed the making of the new blood cells known as hematopoietic precursor cells. Kaufman and his team believe that since mouse and human cells are so much alike, the embryonic cells will respond the same way when introduced into a human body.

These new cells would provide a safe, perhaps inexhaustible supply of human blood and bone marrow. The diversity within the supplywould almost eliminate immunity rejections in patients receiving organ transplants.

Scientists would inject a patient with the blood made from a certain line of the embryonic stem cells. New organ tissue produced from the same line of cells would then be infused and the matching blood and tissue would hopefully create healthy replacement tissue for damaged or diseased organ tissue.

There is much hope that this procedure will work. The embryonic stem cells have already been found to transform into any of the 220 some types of cells found in the human body.

However, there is currently a debate between those intent on the benefits for patients who need organ or blood transplants and those who believe it is highly immoral to kill early-stage human embryos, many of whom are opposed to genetic engineering in general.

“I find it more reasonable to kill embryos for scientific research rather than for abortion,” said sophomore Rania Daystar. “However, if these studies are to continue, abortion should be legalized too.”

Because of the widespread dissent, President Bush has forged a compromise. He stated that federally funded researches related to this project are to use only the stem cells that had already been extracted by August 9.

Britain, Japan, Israel, and Singapore have also legalized the practice of creating blood cells from embryonic stem cells. Countries that have banned this practice include China and Australia.

Though the procedure is already underway, it is not expected to hit the emergency rooms any time soon. The project has not yet been deemed officially safe for use on human patients. Furthermore, the operation is for the moment still too expensive to serve any practical use in hospital treatments.

Biology ProfessorFrank Keegan will be addressing stem cells in Forum next week.

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