A woman’s curse? In the West, through much of its history, women were considered ritually unclean during the monthly flow of blood. This period put a woman into a state of ritual defilement. Theologians believed that this “unclean creature” could not be entrusted with the care of God’s sacred rituals. Similar taboos existed among many cultures, including the Greeks and Romans. Women were not only considered to be “impure” but in danger of communicating this impurity to others. Anyone who touches a woman or her belongings becomes unclean and must clean themselves. These traditions were onerous and complicated.
Now for the blessings of the curse! The same blood is now claimed by researchers as life-saving. It is found to contain stem cells that are in the early stages of development, thus having the potential to turn into different types of cells.
American and Japanese researchers say that this blood contains adult stem cells and can be the “super repair kit” for the body. These stem cells can be used to develop nine different types of cells for growing new cartilage, bone, fat, skin, brain cells, lung, nerve, muscle and even the heart.
A master stem cell is the zygote (embryo) that is the result of a fertilized egg. It is the beginning of all human life. With the growth of the embryo, this master cell multiplies into millions of cells, including stem cells. Throughout gestation, different types of cells are created, skin, nerve, bone, muscle and others. After birth and throughout the life, regenerating stem cells are produced by the body.
Menstrual stem cells are believed to be similar to those from the embryos and bone marrow, but are said to be better compatible and easy to replicate.
Menstruation is nothing but the shedding of the uterine lining (endometrium) and the blood that oozes out of the blood vessels that are torn when the uterine lining is shed. Stem cell researchers say this uterine lining that is shed contains stem cells.
Scientists are excited and consider this an wonderful breakthrough in stem cell therapy, as stem cells are known to be a wonder cure for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, spinal cord damage and several other diseases.
Several lab tests were done on menstrual stem cells and scientists created all types of cells from them and the most amazing find was that it took only five days to create new heart cells.
Researchers say that these stem cells should be banked for future use in saving lives and it is a simple process too. The procedure is similar to giving a urine sample. The only effort that needs to be put in is to expand the blood before storing, unlike the umbilical cord stem cells that are stored immediately after extraction.
Stem cell research holds great promise because stem cells are cells that have not yet divided into specialized somatic cells – such as liver cells, skin cells, nerve cells and muscle cells – they can be used to develop various treatments. Stem cell research has the potential to repair any tissue in the body; it has the potential to cure anything from a simple skin cut to cancer.
Stem cell therapy has come under a lot of scrutiny and has become a controversial issue because of scientists’ belief that the most useful stem cells come from embryos. This controversy has reached new proportions when researchers in Virginia have become the first to create human embryos for the purpose of harvesting stem cells that can be used in scientific investigations. Federal funding for such research is being questioned on the grounds of morality and legality.
Researchers feel that actual treatments are a long way off and one of the reasons is federal funding. In spite of the fact that there are many private laboratories that have been engaged in stem cell research without expecting any assistance from the government, the lack of federal support retards the progress of American stem cell research.
Many supporters of stem cell research feel that promising research programs, including adult and amniotic fluid stem cell research and other types of scientific studies that do not involve human embryos should be funded. They feel that this needs to be done in an attempt to relieve human suffering and we are sure millions of sufferers from around the world feel this way too.