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Nervous System Disorders

Nervous System Disorders

Description:

This lesson will discuss the role of stem cell research for nervous system disorders.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Welcome to this lesson on stem cells and nervous system disorders. Today, you will be learning about the function of stem cells in treating nervous system disorders. Specifically, you will learn about:

  1. Introduction to the Issues
  2. What Is a Stem Cell?
  3. New Stem Cell Research
  4. Stem Cell Implantation

1. Introduction to the Issues

Many nervous system disorders involve the cells of the nervous system either dying or becoming damaged. Stem cell research offers hope to treating these types of disorders and in order to understand how stem cell research works, we have to understand what a stem cell is.

Terms to Know

    • Stem cells
    • A class of cells that are referred to as undifferentiated (unspecialized); these cells are found in embryos and adults and have the potential to form into specialized cells if they are exposed to the right environment.
    • Stem cell research
    • Research that is geared toward using stem cells to cure currently incurable diseases.

2. What Is a Stem Cell?

A stem cell is an differentiated cell found in an undeveloped embryo or in various other tissues throughout the adult body, such as the brain. When you talk about an undifferentiated cell, what you’re talking about is a cell that hasn't specialized yet. Because of this they are important in scientific research because scientists can manipulate these types of cells and produce a certain type of cell that they need to possibly treat a disease.


3. New Stem Cell Research

New research, as of fairly recently, has shown that neural stem cells in the brain can actually generate new neurons under certain circumstances. In the past it was thought that stem cells could only be obtained from an embryo which created an ethical debate because to obtain these stem cells from an embryo involved destroying the embryo. Now research is showing that these stem cells can actually be obtained throughout the brain or other body tissues.

These cells could be used to repair damaged portions of the nervous system caused by damage or disease. You can use these undifferentiated cells, manipulate them and specialize them in a specific way, and then use them to repair damaged portions of the nervous system that are caused by diseases. This could be useful with disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other forms of paralysis among various other types of nervous system disorders.


4. Stem Cell Implantation

The process of stem cell implantation in stem cell research is very complicated and still has much progress to make; however here the basic ideas will be summarized. First a scientist would start with and undifferentiated neural cells in a lab dish and then would be able to manipulate them and grow them into the desired differentiated cell. Then that cell would be implanted into the patient to try to repair the damaged portion or whatever portion of the cells need repairing, depending on the disorder that they have.

Another type of research that's happening is that they're trying to find ways to help the body activate its own stem cells to help repair for damage. If scientists can find a way to get the body to fire up those stem cells on their own, then they wouldn't need to implant stem cells for this type of treatment.


Summary

So this lesson has been an overview on stem cells and nervous system disorders. Specifically, you looked at an introduction to the issues, what a stem cell is, new stem cell research and the stem cell implantation process.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR AMANDA SODERLIND

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Stem cells

    A class of cells that are referred to as undifferentiated (unspecialized); these cells are found in embryos and adults and have the potential to form into specialized cells if they are exposed to the right environment.

  • Stem cell research

    Research that is geared toward using stem cells to cure currently incurable diseases.