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Stem Cell Therapy: Why is it Controversial?

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					                              Stem Cell Therapy: Why is it Controversial?

There are currently three ways to harvest stem cells – bone marrow, blood and embryos. The preferred
method is from using the blood, as it is thought to be safer and can be done with no anaesthesia.
Harvesting stem cells from bone marrow is the preferred source when the blood cannot provide
sufficient cells. Harvesting embryonic stem cells is really where the controversy with stem cell therapy
lies.

Removing stem cells from blood can be accomplished by processing the blood of either the patient or an
outside donor. The procedure consists of placing an IV in each arm – through one, IV blood is drawn
from the body, then processed by a machine which extracts the stem cells. The blood is then returned to
the body through the second IV. Harvesting stem cells from blood can be done time after time until
there are sufficient stem cells to begin the anti aging therapy that they are being harvested for. There
may be discomfort in the bones as the marrow works overtime to generate more blood and white blood
cells. Once enough stem cells have been harvested, the pain quickly subsides.

Usually, before harvesting stem cells from the blood, the patient gets a drug that increases the
production of white blood cells in his bone marrow. Although blood is the preferred source for stem
cells, there are very few of them in the blood. The drug that is given stimulates a massive
overproduction of white blood cells that spill over from the marrow into the blood where they are
harvested. Stem cell treatment for any purpose requires millions of stem cells to work correctly. Timing
the harvest is constantly monitored to determine exactly when to start the process as the drug causes
such a rapid production of white blood cells that they age and begin to die very quickly.

Harvesting stem cells from a human embryo causes the death of the embryo – hence, the moral
dilemma. Many people consider this method of stem cell extraction tantamount to murder. Research
continues and it is looking more and more promising that a stem cell can be extracted from the embryo
and the remaining cells can be reintroduced into the womb, thereby preserving the embryo.

Regardless of how the stem cells are harvested, they show tremendous promise in treating disease as
far removed from one another as cancer and aging. Along with alternative therapy, such as IV vitamin
therapy, researchers continue to work toward enhancing, and perhaps extending, life.

				
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