Stem Cell Research

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  • Topic: Cellular differentiation, Stem cell, Cell
  • Pages : 5 (2109 words )
  • Download(s) : 40
  • Published : December 13, 2012
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In looking to the controversial topic of stem cell research, I am reminded of Charlie Chaplin when he stated that “man is an animal with primary instincts of survival. Consequently his ingenuity had developed fist and his soul afterwards. The progress of science is far ahead of man’s ethical behavior.” Stem cell research is currently one of the most widely debated topics in medical science. Since the 1980’s, when the first embryonic stem cell was extracted from mice, there has been a growing interest in stem cell research as well as great advances in understanding behind these incredibly vital biological entities. Since the improvement of technology that has allowed for growth of such cells in the laboratory, concepts like generating tissue for transplants are no longer something out of a science fiction novel. Yet it cannot be questioned that for whatever promise such research has represented, one cannot escape the notion that such research represents a double edged sword. Such research has been a constant source of controversy from the day that research began. But, what exactly is a stem cell? Stem cells are an undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism that is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells of the same type, and from which certain other kinds of cell arise by differentiation (Murray, Rothstein, & Murray Jr., 1998). However, when the general public thinks of stem cells, they (most of the time) think about embryonic stem cells, derived from an early-stage embryo. This raises ethical issues because the process of obtaining these cells, results in the destruction of a fertilized human embryo. Yet what people fail to realize is that research has proven that these embryonic stem cells are not the only ones available for medical research/health. In fact, each and every individual has stem cells within various parts of their bodies which have been proven to contain an extreme amount of promise. So, in order to get over the boundaries that are faced while researching stem cells, individuals, especially those within office, have to realize that there are other alternatives rather than just the cells that come from an embryo. Yet, if a woman does decide to have her embryo aborted she should face no backlash because at the end of the day those cells could potentially cure either debilitating or life-threatening diseases that continue to affect citizens daily. Again before delving into the factors that make them so controversial, let’s take a few steps back and delve into what stem cells actually are. As previously stated stem cells are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division (National Institutes of Health, 2009). So in much simpler “less scientific” terminology, basically what this is saying is that stem cells are a special type of cell that yet to be designated a specific job. They ultimately have the potential to help take form into a vast variety cells with a more specialized function. Examples of that range from muscle cells, red blood cells, brain cells, etc. This may be somewhat of a crude explanation of what a stem cell actually is, but think of them as a newborn baby. At birth the baby has no set job, but over time the child find its place in the world and begins to specialize in some sort of craft, whether in the work force or in their personal life. What I am trying to get at here is that stem cells basically have no set purpose at first, but are eventually recruited at certain to points to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive (News Medical, 2012). However, as great and as promising as all these medical advances sound, stem cell research is usually followed by a plethora of controversy due mainly in part of embryonic stem cells. Yet, what the general public fails to realize at times is that there are two types of stem cells used in sciences current research; embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Human embryonic...
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