?Science is moving at such a rapid speed these days, between cloning, genetherapy, miracle drugs, exotic therapies, etc. One of the most significant breakthroughscame in November 1998, when two separate researchers successfully isolated stemcells from human embryos and aborted fetuses. Stem cells are primordial cells of ahuman organism, which are capable of becoming all or most of the 210 different kindsof tissues in the human body.
Stem cells have been defined as not fully differentiatedyet to be any particular type of tissue or cell. They range from totipotent, i. e. ( theearly stages of the human embryo up to about 4 days after conception. ) To pluripotent I.
e. (a bit older and therefore only capable of being some cells or tissues in thebody. ) As in the 5-7 day blastocyst stage of the early embryo, with decreasingcapacity in later stages of fetal development and in human beings. The impassioned hopes are that these stem cells can be used to greatadvantages. The cautious fears are that innocent and vulnerable human beings aredestroyed, and needlessly so, in the process.
The debates are raging. Many people are confused about what stem cell researchreally is, and wonder why all the fuss. There are several well documented and well-articulated sources of information available on this issue already, so the following is abrief overview of some of the major scientific, ethical, pros and cons. For centuries humanity has been plagued with numerous diseases, such as theblack plague, Cancer, AIDS, and other diseases. These horrific, dreaded diseaseshave killed millions of people due to doctors or scientists not having a cure, but thanksto a scientific and medical breakthrough these diseases can and will be a thing of thepast.
With this new research scientists are hoping to gain important scientificknowledge about embryonic development and its application to related fields; curingdebilitating diseases, e. g. , Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, stroke, spinal cordinjuries, bone diseases, etc. ; and screening drugs for pharmaceutical companies,instead of having to rely on animal models.
In order to continue with these medical and scientific breakthroughs you have toaccept the right-to-life argument in its most extreme form. Im talking about newlyformed embryos. These are not fetuses with tiny little waving hands and feet. Theseare microscopic groupings of a few differentiated cells. There is nothing human about them, except potential, and only if you choose to believe it, a soul. However, Bush isblocking, stem cell research would not actually take the life of a single embryo.
Researchers would only use embryos that are being discarded anyway. 1I understand that some people and pro lifers say that stem cell research ismurder. But I strongly fell that it is ethically acceptable – even morally required – todestroy a few human beings in order to possibly benefit millions of patients. Besides,these cells do not cause the same immuno-incompatibility problems aftertransplantation as do adult stem cells from different patients. Further, these early cellsfrom human embryos and fetuses are MORE “totipotent” and “pluripotent” than adultstem cells, and therefore they can be “coaxed” to become more different kinds oftissues, and can last longer in culture awaiting use. Besides, these fetuses and left-over IVF-produced human embryos are going to die anyway, so we might as well getsome good use out of them.
1 Researchers believe that stem cells can mimic theactions and activitiesof nearly every other cell in the body. Eventually, scientists hope to usethem to repair damaged hearts after heart attacks, regenerate liversdevastated by cirrhosis or viral disease, reconstruct damaged joints, orseed the brain with fresh neurons to reverse the effects of Parkinson’sand Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to the November issue of TechnologyReview, a research magazine published by the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology, or MIT. 2 Now for every good there is a bad, and with all this technology there has to be anegative side, after all everything with medication and medical research has its sideeffects, and thousands of people in the world feel that stem cell research is morallyand ethically wrong regardless of what stem cell research promises, as well as all theside effects that come along with stem cell research. Here are just some of the sideeffects or things that are wrong or unethical. First, one minor complication is that use of human embryonic stem cells requireslifelong use of drugs to prevent rejection of the tissue.
Second, another more serious disadvantage is that using embryonic stem cells canproduce tumors from rapid growth when injected into adult patients. A third disadvantage: the March 8, 2001 New England Journal of Medicine reportedtragic side effects from an experiment involving the insertion of fetal brain cells into thebrains of Parkinsons disease patients. Results included uncontrollable movements:writhing twisting head jerking, arm-flailing and constant chewing. One man can nolonger eat and now requires a feeding tube. Fourth, a recent report in the Journal Science reported that mice cloned from ESC weregenetically defective. This is particularly relevant.
If human ESC are also geneticallyunstable, that could materially compromise efforts to transform cells extracted fromembryos into successful medical therapies. Fifth and finally, the research may be hampered because many of the existing stem celllines were grown with the help of mouse cells. These mouse cells were needed toenhance their growth. If any of this research is to turn into treatments, it will needapproval from the FDA, which requires special safeguards to prevent transmission ofanimal diseases to people. It is unclear how many of these cell lines were developedwith the safeguards in place. This of course leads to a whole host of problems relatedto transgenic issues.
Upon receiving this assignment I was asked to form my own opinion, and I willadmit I did not know much about this subject, but after doing all the research andfinding the Pros and the Cons, and my decision is a difficult one to make. I am definitely against human cloning (most cloning in fact) because of theserious ethical concerns. For one thing, I don’t advocate striking Stem Cell research because we simply don’tknow enough about it. We need that research to help answer some questions. If it isgoing to create ethical problems or revolutionize medicine then we’ve got to know oneway or the other, and the only way to do that is by researching more.
The federalgovernment is the key to answering this question by providing funding for research–ifthe US doesn’t go ahead with it, other nations will. We do know that stem cells are the cluster of cells formed within days after conception. After a few days, they go from being blank slates to growing into various organs. Someof them become skin cells and others the brain and others still the heart, etc. With miceand Chimps, we have taken their stem cells and injected them into dying organs.
Amazing things have happened: dying hearts have become brand new, brain damagehas been repaired and more. Then in 1998 this same thing was done in humans. Experts predict that it will be used to cure parkinsons, Alzheimers, brain disease, skincancer, huntington’s disease. .
. in other words it could change everything for the better. I’m not sure what kind of ethical problems would arise. I mean, the only issue iswhether you are killing an unborn baby; the whole abortion thing, and I don’t think thatit applies. These stem cells come from embryos that are either discarded by theparents already or are grown in the lab specifically to do research on without thepotential for full life. Furthermore, these are blank slate cells, its not like you can groworgans or humans out of them.
What they do in the lab is they inject them into dyingorgans and the cells replace the dying ones in that given organ. You cannot groworgans with stem cells from scratch, John Hopkins tried and failed six months ago. Thatwould be cloning and this is not cloning. Given all of the benefits involved and the real unknowns I think the federal governmentmust fund it.
Maybe it will fail, maybe it will be successful, but how can we ever know ifwe don’t try researching it? 1. Time, 06/25/2001, vol. 157 Issue 25, p80. ( Kinsley, Michael)2.http://www.christianity.com/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID4859|CHID5|CIID1138414,00.html paragraph 6