Adult Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells: Questions and Answers

by alternative-medicine-remedies on September 23, 2011

Carol asks…

What is the different between embryonic stem cells and adult cells?

alternative-medicine-remedies answers:

Embryonic cells are called dedifferentiated. Differentiation is when a cell, in this case stem, differentiates or changes into another type of cell ( a heart muscle cell, a skin cell..etc.) So embryonic cells can become any other cell and the adult somatic cells cannot.

Linda asks…

What are the differences between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells?

alternative-medicine-remedies answers:

Embryonic stem cells are able to turn into anything they want (pluripotent) , while adult stem cells have limited outcomes (multipotent)

Sandy asks…

What are some pro-life groups opposing embryonic stem cells but for adult stem cell research?

and can you please explain what they do to help this situation of ‘killing embryos’

alternative-medicine-remedies answers:

Almost everyone is for adult stem cells, so just start looking at the different pro life groups.

There really isn’t much they can do about the situation of killing embryos, since, of course, its not the embryonic stem cell research that kills them. Rather its IVF that kills the embryos, and produces the embryos that are used… A procedure that is legal, socially acceptable, covered by any decent medical insurance, and in general is NOT fought by any societal or prolife group.

Sure, they can work on lobbying against embryonic stem cell research, but as long as IVF exists, those embryos will still be dieing.

Sandra asks…

What are the advantages of using embryonic stem cells rather than adult stem cells for research purposes?

alternative-medicine-remedies answers:

Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated, meaning they have not yet developed to serve any specific function in the body yet. Most adult cells are differentiated, so they can only be used for a specific purpose like certain cells of the organs or tissue. So the advantage is that you can harvest the embryonic cells and use them for whatever you need, whereas you are limited with adult cells (unless you acquire actual undifferentiated stem cells, which is very difficult in adult humans.) However, the premise of using embryonic human stem cells is quite controversial and the topic of much discussion in the scientific community.

James asks…

What are the 3 key differences between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells?

alternative-medicine-remedies answers:

Pro-Life advocates (like Catholics) believe that life is a sacred gift from God and needs to be treated with all human dignity from the moment of conception to the point of natural death.

For this reason, the destruction of living human embryos to harvest embryonic stem cells is immoral.
• The end never justifies the means
• A moral good can never come from a moral evil

Here are just a few of the common myths about Stem Cell Research:

Myth: Stem cells can only come from embryos.

Truth: Stem cells can be taken from:
• Umbilical cords
• The placenta
• Amniotic fluid
• Adult tissues and organs including bone marrow, fat from liposuction, regions of the nose and even dead bodies up to 20 hours after death

Myth: The Catholic Church is against stem cell research.

Truth: The Catholic Church approves three of the four types of stem cell research:
• Against Embryonic stem cells
• For Embryonic germ cells (from miscarriages)
• For Umbilical cord stem cells
• For Adult stem cells

Myth: Embryonic stem cell research has the greatest promise

Fact: Up to now, no human being has ever been cured of a disease using embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already cured thousands. There is the example of the use of bone marrow cells from the hipbone to repair scar tissue on the heart after heart attacks. Research using adult cells is 20-30 years ahead of embryonic stem cells and holds greater promise.

Based on the “The Ten Great Myths in the Debate Over Stem Cell Research” by Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. Http://

Adult stem cells are currently used for the medical treatment of:
• Anemias
• Cancers (multiple types)
• Child Leukemias
• Cornea Regeneration
• Crohn´s Disease
• Diabetes, Type I
• Heart Disease, Acute & Chronic
• Krabbe Leukodystrophy
• Liver Cirrhosis
• Lupus
• Lymphomas
• Myelomas
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Paralysis
• Osteopetrosis
• Parkinson´s Disease
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome
• Sickle Cell Anemia
• Spinal Cord Injury
• Stroke
• Systemic Vasculitis
• and more

For more information, see the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s resources on stem cell research:

Here is “Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions” that Pope Benedict XVI gave to President Obama:


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