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Advantages and Disadvantages of Adult Stem Cells

  • Adult stem cells can be harvested from a person’s blood, fat, or bone marrow with little effect on the individual. This eliminates the controversy about destroying life. Cells can be obtained directly from the tissue they belong to and it does not destroy a human embryo during the process.
  • Adult stem cells are not rejected by the body’s immune system as a result of being capable of performing an autologous transplant ("Advantages and Disadvantages of Adult Stem Cells over Embryonic/Germ Cells" par.1). When cells or tissues or organs are transplanted from one person to the other the receiver's body often rejects the organ or tissue given by the donor because their immune system recognizes it as a foreign object and will attack it as if it is a disease. The receiver then has to take medication to counteract this rejection for the rest of his or her life. With an autologous transplant this hassle is eliminated because the receiver is also the donor and his or her body does not attack the cells because they are not foreign.
  • Potential treatments include regenerating bone using cells derived from bone marrow stroma, developing insulin-producing cells for type 1 diabetes, and repairing damaged heart muscle following a heart attack with cardiac muscle cells.
  • They are capable of being transformed into pluripotent stem cells, allowing them to have the advantages of embryonic cells without the need of destroying human embryos.

  • Adult stem cells have a determined cell type and cannot be changed into tissues that differ from the ones that they came from. This limits the cells by allowing them to be used only in procedures that involve the same type of tissue that they came from.
  • They are difficult culture in-vitro, impossible for some cell types, and they are fairly difficult to get using other methods because it requires a sample of the tissue that is specific to that cell type. Generally to get a sample of tissue it needs to be removed from the body, requiring surgery in most cases. Even when they are successfully cultured in-vitro, adult stem cells have a shorter life than embryonic stem cells.
  • Changing these cells into induced pluripotent stem cells is more difficult than harvesting embryonic stem cells. With more research it is likely that we would learn more about this process and be capable of transforming these cells with ease.