STEM CELLS: THE BAD VS. THE GOOD
The use of embryonic stem cells to treat human diseases; is it unethical, questionable, helpful, in violation of law and policy or just the right answer for many, many diseases? All of these are great questions and are all questions that everyone and everybody has an opinion on at one time or another. To first really understand the controversy surrounding stem cell research you must know a little about its base; embryonic stem cells, “they are cells harvested or collected from the very early stages of a fertilized egg, which contains about eight cells per egg (1).” Are we killing innocent children or are we allowing others the possible chance to live. Many think that harvesting these stem cells is murder, where others are seeing it as the difference between life and death. This is where the controversy begins and why many have a problem with stem cell research; it is how the embryonic stem cells are harvested and how they are used.
Now when these cells are taken from the eggs they are put to good use. Biologists all over the world have no doubt in their minds that embryonic stem cells are most likely to do great things for many people in this world. With the capabilities that embryonic cells have there really isn’t a lot out of reach in the future for science. These cells are known for changing into any one of the many types of cells and tissues in the human body. Being able to do this means many things for today, such as the possibility of “growing cells of medical importance such as bone marrow, neural tissue or muscle (2).” The stem cells being able to transform into these many cells can also help in the discovery of new drugs. With all of this new technology, there is a large amount of cells that can be used for research. Possibly then through this research there could be a discovery that helps to provide a better picture of how some diseases work. And through that information maybe there could be ways to discover even how to prevent these cell-based diseases from happening at all.
Once embryonic stem cells are extracted from the fertilized egg they have a remarkable potential to develop into many different types of cells that can then be used in the body. The embryonic stem cells can literally be divided again and again without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal the cell is in, is still alive. The cells go through a normal cell cycle; the difference is that “the daughter cells can either stay a stem cell or they have the potential to become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell or a brain cell (1).”
Stem cells have been around for as long as life, because all of us contain stem cells. Research on stem cells started around the time that microscopes came about, but it really didn’t take off until about the “1980’s” (1). In 1998 the University of Wisconsin succeeded in isolating and cultivating embryonic stem cells from human embryos and fetuses. This discovery was a great advance for the medical world. They then took these cells and grew them in the labs in cultures, so that they could use them in future studies and research.
There are many things that go into obtaining stem cells before they can be used. Foremost they are embryonic cells so you have to involve a mother and her eggs. You are also then looking to involve the person who fertilized the egg, because it wouldn’t be growing without them. Depending on how you look at it they unborn embryo that you are harvesting the stem cells from is also playing a part in the harvesting process.
A website like stemcellresearch.org that is against embryonic cell research has many things to say; it’s breaking the law, it’s unethical, scientifically questionable, etc. Many like it all start off talking about what the term pre-embryo means and how just because you stick...
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