Emily Sartori Explores New Approach to Stem Cell Research

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Emily Sartori Explores New Approach to Stem Cell Research

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Recently, I had the great opportunity to speak with Mount Senior Emily Sartori about her Senior Capstone project on the fascinating topic of stem cell research. Emily informed me that her project started because of her two main extracurricular activities, volunteering at her church and running track. She originally piqued an interest in stem cell research because she knew that it could lead to a new scientific way to help an athlete, such as a runner, with their injuries. However, due to her religious beliefs, she could not morally condone the taking of the stem cells from human embryos, which is the most common way that stem cell research is conducted. For this reason, she was intrigued by a new way that scientists have effectively found stem cells. This method uses human induced pluripotent stem cells (HiPSCs), the focus of Emily’s Capstone project.

I then inquired if this new and interesting topic has anything to do with what Emily wants to major in in college and pursue career wise. It turns out that she plans on majoring in Biomedical Engineering when she goes to college and intends to go into a career involving that as well.

As the conversation went on, the two of us got on the topic of what she wants people to learn from this project and what she herself has learned by doing.

…this isn’t only about saving lives, it’s about potentially saving the lives of future generations as well.”

— Emily '19

“I want people to know that the entire stem cell industry is so intriguing and that it provides many new medical opportunities for different therapies and different solutions for so many diseases,” Emily explained. “Through stem cells, you can model human beings because humans are where stems cells come from. You can do this for things like learning about different cancers, and this isn’t only about saving lives, it’s about potentially saving the lives of future generations as well.”

She also wants people to understand that stems cells do not only have to come from human embryos and that now she is trying to introduce and discuss the medical reputation of HiPSCs.

After hearing this, I was naturally curious about some of the possible scientific benefits and advancements that can come from the use of these HiPSCs. Emily’s research shows that these stem cells can be used for important models of various diseases, drug testing, and therapy treatments by differentiation of these cells.

We then discussed the fact that stem cell research has evolved greatly over the years and that there are many ways that it is still evolving. We also talked about how the idea of stem cell research came about in the first place.

“From the beginning, stem cells were introduced because there was such a decrease in organ donations, so they needed new ways to regenerate organs for organ transplants,” said a Emily. “Also, when someone gets an organ transplant, they need to take immunosuppressant drugs in order for their body to accept the organ and not reject it. This can be extremely hurtful to a person’s immune system, but using stem cells to regenerate organs is actually better because your body already knows the blood type and genetic makeup of the organs. That’s definitely a plus, and from the beginning this was the main purpose of the start of stem cell research.”

Emily stated that differentiation of HiPSCs is something that needs major improvement within the field of stem cell research. These cells need to be grown in a soluble solution and many cells need to be differentiated to find the specific cell that is needed. She said that the scientists conducting the research need to find a more efficient and effective way to find the cells that they need.

The most interesting and important thing that I have learned is the fact that you can find so many different HiPSCs in so many parts of the adult human body.”

— Emily '19

“The most interesting and important thing that I have learned is the fact that you can find so many different HiPSCs in so many parts of the adult human body,” added Emily. “You can find them in your gums and in so many other places in your body, and I found this so interesting. It was so cool to do all of this research because I originally thought that there were only embryonic stem cells. I think that it’s amazing that you can find these stem cells in so many different places on your body, and this really negates the fact that you need to use an unborn child to find stem cells.”

Emily’s project offers an entirely new, thought-provoking side of a topic that many people may think that they know a lot about.  

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