Embryonic vs Adult Stem Cell Research

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Embryonic VS Adult Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research just by saying its name creates an uneasy feeling because it is such a controversial topic. There are many ethical and moral issues that make people uneasy because they can’t decided whether they should side with the more ethical side of this research, adult stem cell, or the more well known, embryonic stem cell. This ethical issue between the two research categories gives rise to another issue that isn’t usually discussed. This issue is the difference between embryonic and adult stem cell research and what that difference can mean for people that have come to rely on stem cells to cure their diseases. Embryonic stem cell research is the one most people hear about and the one that most research money has gone to. Adult stem cell research is the one behind the scenes, however; the one that has actually had success. There is a grave difference between embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) and adult stem cell research (ASCR), and that is where these stem cells come from and at what cost to the donor, sometimes this difference can even mean the life of a child once and a while due to abortion. Another grave difference is that ESCR has no logged cures or even success where ASCR has had both. This paper will show in detail those differences between ESCR and ASCR and what they mean for the world and the life a child whose cells are being used without even making an effect.

Before talking about the downsides of ESCR there are some important things that need to be pointed out. ESCR was where stem cell research first started.

“Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.”(Stem Cell Research and Abortion)

“Human embryonic stem cells are derived from eggs fertilized in vitro (outside of the body)” which some see as the killing of this embryo just for research. (Bryner). Before anyone even thought about adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells popped up. In 1998 James Thomson had an article “heralding the creation of the first human embryonic stem cell culture” (Fumento) that he created in his lab at the University of Wisconsin. It was the first step on a long road of research to where we are today. It is also true that embryonic stem cells are much younger and grow much faster than adult stem cells, which give them the ability to quickly fix a disease that is if they could. The last good thing about ESC is that they are “more plentiful, easier to identity, isolate, purify, and easier to grow” (Messinger pg 1-2). These young cells bring about excitement for the “potential of embryonic stem cells to cure disease [which] comes from their unique potential to turn into any cell type in the body” (Palca), which unfortunately ASC have not been proven to be able to do just quite yet.

On the other side of things, ESCR has many things that don’t make it look promising now or in the near future. In fact the “time frame has shifted to decades away” before any success is expected to come from ESCR. One problem with this far off expectancy date is the sad fact that “frozen embryos will eventually die (or be discarded, resulting in death) which means that they were killed in vain, at least in some people’s eyes. (Fumento) This long time period also contributes to the large quantities of money needed for funding ESCR, which for about a decade was taking a real toll on tax payers. President Bush started this federal funding for ESCR that came out of tax payer’s pockets, “in the fall of 2001, President Bush decided to allow federal funding of ESCR in a very limited...
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