English Section 1Stem Cell Research Term Paper Stem Cells are undifferentiated cells. This means that they can divide and multiply before given a specialized job in the body such as bone cells or skin cells. There are embryonic stem cells, which come from developing embryos, somatic stem cells, which come from adults, and umbilical stem cells, which come from the umbilical blood. (Stem Cell Basics, 2) Although each of these stem cells can all be used to treat a variety of different diseases, embryonic stem cells are the most promising since they are the youngest and most versatile.
There is a question of ethics involving stem cell research because obtaining embryonic stem cells means terminating a potential life. When embryonic cells are extracted, the embryo is only 3-5 days old. This means that the embryo has not yet been implanted into the mother’s womb. The debate at hand is weather or not there should be federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Opponents to stem cell research say that un-implanted human embryos are already human beings, and stopping the process of implanting the embryo into the womb to grow is equivalent to terminating a life.
The three types of stem cells are embryonic stem cells, somatic or adult stem cells, and umbilical stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are harvested from a 3 to 5 day embryo, called a blastocyst. These first cells that start to form from a fertilized egg, are the base for all future cells that will be made to form the rest of the parts of the body including the heart, brain, and tissue. (Stem Cell Basics, 1) Embryonic stem cells can be used to make almost any type of cell that doctors or patients need.
They are the most versatile because they are young and in most cases wont be rejected by a body in which they are implanted into. Adult stem cells, or somatic stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in throughout fully grown and specifically working adult cells. The benefit of somatic stem cells is that they are undifferentiated, like embryonic cells, and they can be used and made into important specific cells which doctors and patients may need. The purpose of somatic cells in the adult body is to repair and maintain the tissue in which they come from.
Studies show that somatic stem cells care found in many different parts of the body than previously thought possible. For over 40 years scientists have used somatic cells for blood transfusions. These somatic cells are harvested from the bone marrow of donors. Now scientists are discovering stem cells in more areas of the body such as the brain and heart. (Fumento, 2) Umbilical stem cells are the final type of stem cells. The umbilical cord is filled with a bloody substance, also called the amniotic fluid, which has been discovered by scientists to contain stem cells.
Umbilical stem cells can be used to treat diseases like somatic stem cells and embryonic stem cells, but unlike somatic cells, the umbilical cells have less of a chance of being rejected by a recipient’s body. This is because the umbilical blood lacks many immune cells, so there is not a big chance that it will attack the body in which it is implanted into. (Stem cell information, 4) In 2010, 34% of Americans strongly favored embryonic stem cell research, 24% somewhat favored research, 11% somewhat opposed, 18% strongly opposed, and 13% didn’t know. 7% of those who strongly opposed to stem cell research had religion objection. They believe that human life begins at conception, and using the stem cells of those embryos is as serious at taking a life of a grown up person. 57% of the American population also agrees that there should be federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. As of March 2009, President Obama has lifted the ban on government funding of embryonic stem cell research. (Nardo, 67) The first embryonic stem cells were taken from mice in 1981. It wasn’t until 1998 that the first human embryonic stem cells were harvested.
After the first discovery of stem cells in 1981, researchers obtained embryonic stem cells from primates in 1995. This gave scientists the answer they needed to know that they were going to be able to extract stem cells from human embryos. In 1998, scientists isolated the first human embryonic stem cells. These cells were undifferentiated cells and could be used almost anywhere in the body. The reason that embryonic stem cell research was such a controversial topic was because the means by which researchers got their cells was not considered ethical to some.
One team derived the cells from an aborted fetus, the other researchers created an embryo in an in vitro fertilization lab. As of 2000, the National Institutes of Health issued federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. When President Bush came into office, he put a hold on federal funding for stem cell research. By 2001, Bush had announced that he was limiting the funding of stem cell research to only the existing embryos being used in research. These embryos had already been worked on, and they had been contaminated, and were now useless in find cures for terminal diseases. In 2004, Korea announced that hey had created the world’s first viable clone of a human embryo. The embryo clones could be used as a new source of embryonic stem cells. By 2005, The House passed a bill that would lessen President Bush’s restrictions of federal funding for stem cell research. For the first time in office, Bush vetoed the bill. This took place in 2006. In that same year, researchers found stem cells in amniotic fluid, which is found in the umbilical cord. Scientists discovered that these stem cells, like embryonic stem cells were undifferentiated and were promising in finding cures for diseases.
In 2009, President Obama was sworn into office. He immediately reversed President Bush’s orders, and he removed the barriers involving stem cell research. Clinical trials took place to used human stem cells to try and repair progressive eye diseases. The FDA also began a clinical trial to test embryonic stem cells on patients with macular dystrophy, which cases blindness. (Godoy, 2-7) To those who are pro life, they believe that life begins at conception. The Catholic Church is against embryonic stem cell research because it involves an embryo being destroyed. This means that potential life of a human baby has been ended.
The church sees embryonic stem cell research as a form of murder. According to a statement given at the United States conference of Catholic bishops, “it now seems inevitable that once we cross the fundamental moral line that prevents us from treating fellow human beings as mere objects of research, there is no stopping point. “(O’Brien, 1) The Catholic Church believes that the end product does not justify the means for committing an act of harm. In the case of embryonic stem cell research, they believe that the cure for diseases and saving thousands of lives does not justify the destruction of human life.
The Church supports umbilical stem cell research because it does not harm to the growing fetus. (O’Brien, 2) Scientists have discovered this type of stem cell research to be very promising. Embryonic stem cells don’t necessarily have to be used if scientists can find a way to make umbilical stem cells into whatever cells they need. Umbilical stem cells also form a genetic match with the new born child in which they came from. This allows them to be reintroduced to the body at a later time without running a large risk of tissue rejection.
Embryonic stem cells have proven to have many beneficial uses. Since these cells are undifferentiated they have the ability to become almost any cell they want, which makes them very valuable. (In Stem Cell Information, 1) Although the current policy of the government has allowed funding to go to embryonic stem cell research, some feel it should be a permanent government policy to allow stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research enables doctors and scientists to find potential cures for people with cancer and other terminal diseases.
Some of these illnesses include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, birth defects, spinal cord injuries, damaged organs and even burns. Someone who is paralyzed may have to ability to walk again with the creation of stem cells into nerve cells. People with diabetes may also be able to avoid insulin injections if they are given insulin-producing cells derived from stem cells. (Perkel, 1) Although some diseases or injuries may be treated with adult stem cells or umbilical blood, embryonic stem cells work best. According to Dr.
Robert Lanza “the new stem cells can clearly generate a broad range of important cell types, but they may not do as many tricks as embryonic stem cells. ” (Haerens, 2) Another breakthrough that embryonic stem cells might be able to be used for is the creation of cell lines that are used for experimental drug testing. These drugs might even be used as cures for cancers. Stem cell research may ultimately lead to the discovery of cancer treatment, birth defect prevention, and maybe even cancer prevention. (Macmillian, 3) Embryonic stem cell research is also very important in teaching scientists about early human development.
These stem cells are the only ones that can answer scientist’s questions about human development. Umbilical stem cells and somatic stem cells do not offer the same opportunities and answers as embryonic stem cells. In short, the embryonic stem cells are the most medically promising. By examining embryonic stem cells, researchers may be able to understand why cells have specific jobs, and how certain defects came to be. (Genetic science learning center, 2) Stem cells have the ability to cure many diseases including various types of cancers as well as other terminal diseases and various other defects.
They can also be used to teach scientists about human development. Embryonic stem cells in particular have been proven to be the most versatile of all the stem cells. This is because they are the least developed since they were only harvested 3 to 5 days after being created. Since they were harvested at such an early stage of development, they have the ability to become almost any cell in the body. The question still at hand is; is embryonic stem cell research more beneficial then other stem cell research? Scientists and the church both agree that there are other solutions to obtaining stem cells.
There are somatic stem cells found in the adult human body, and there are umbilical stem cells found in the amniotic fluid of the placenta. Are these other stem cells viable alternatives to embryonic stem cells? Embryonic stem cells are derived from a procedure that terminates the possible life of a human. Is that a loss science is willing to take in order to come up with cures for terminal illnesses and answer questions about early human development? Theses are the questions we need to ask ourselves before we continue using government money to dig deeper into embryonic stem cell research.