While adult stem cells have a political advantage over embryonic stem cells, in that there is not a controversy of harvesting the stem cells from an embryo, adult stem cells are much harder to obtain from the body, much harder to culture, and often already have changed properties that impede them from developing into other types of cells. Embryonic stem cells, however, can multiply indefinitely and can form any type of cell in the body. This is why embryonic stem cells are much more powerful than adult stem cells, and why they are needed.
A prominent concern in today’s research is the rejection of stem cells by the immune system. This is one advantage that induced-pluripotent stem cells have (adult cells genetically changed back to their embryonic state)—they can be harvested from the individual and put back in the individual, so there is no concern of immune system rejection. However, this process is extremely costly and takes time. If a patient needs a graft right away, this process will not work. Patients can be immunologically matched if they have the same histocompatibility complex (MHC), and they body won’t reject the cells.
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Stem Cells Part 2 by Erin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.