Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. As scientists look for cures for many diseases that plague humans, they are specifically interested in human embryonic stem cells because stem cells have the ability to divide (self replicate) for indefinite periods….Under the right conditions, or given the right signals, stem cells can give rise (differentiate) to cell types that make up the organism. Scientists envision drawing from “lines” of stem cells - colonies of similar cells that can replicate for long periods - to create new specialized cells for transplant into patients, to repair or replace tissues that disease and disability have damaged
The embryos from which human embryonic stem cells are taken have been created in a laboratory process known as in vitro fertilization. These embryos are typically four or five days old and are a hollow microscopic ball of cells called the blastocyst. The blastocyst includes three structures: the trophoblast, which is the layer of cells that surrounds the blastocyst; the blastocoel, which is the hollow cavity inside the blastocyst; and the inner cell mass, which is a group of approximately 30 cells at one end of the blastocoel. For further information about the process of in vitro fertilization and how these cells are differentiated into skin cells, nerve cells, or heart muscle cells, click here. However, one must remember, that when scientists remove stem cells from a human embryo, the embryos dies in the process. This is the ethical and moral problem we face when we decide to use human embryos for scientific research.