Stem Cell Term Paper

Topics: Stem cell, Cellular differentiation, Embryonic stem cell Pages: 5 (1877 words) Published: October 16, 2011
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. 57% 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...
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