The Great Stem Cell Debate

Topics: Cellular differentiation, Stem cell, Developmental biology Pages: 7 (2373 words) Published: March 7, 2009
The Great Stem Cell Debate
What’s All the Fuss?
Laura Alfonso
University of Phoenix/Axia College

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The Great Stem Cell Debate

What’s all the Fuss?

TAB“Every twelve minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list” (Donate life America, 2009) (para. 1&2). The National Center for Health Statistics (2008) website states “652,051 people die every year of heart disease, 75,119 die of diabetes, 43,901 die of nephritis, nephritic syndrome, and nephrosis [kidney disease].” According to Donate life America (2009) even with all the advances in medical technology the number of organ, eye and tissue donation still falls short of the need. Did you know that 100, 000 men, women and children currently need organ transplants.? Did you also know that an average of eighteen people die each day from the lack of transplant organs. ? The following paper will discuss how researching stem cells could lead us to the mystery of what happens during cell development. How with this knowledge stem cells could be used for medical therapies. This research will also look at those who oppose this research stating that it is morally and ethically wrong because of where the stem cells come from. The following pie chart shows us the status of organ donation as mentioned above. [pic]

Even though the harvesting of stem cells from embryos is considered murder by pro-lifers, researchers strongly support stem cell research because of the potential cures for fatal diseases and the decrease in deaths from lack of donor organs. Let us, however; start at the beginning by explaining what stem cells are. The photo below shows embryonic stem cells as pictured through a microscope viewfinder in a laboratory.

Photo courtesy of Mauricio Lima (2009)
The human body has 220 different types of cells, including, blood, skin, bone, heart tissue, nerves, etc… Stem cells are primitive cells, or undifferentiated cells that have not yet developed into a specific type of cell or differentiated cell. They have the incredible potential to become any of the 220 different types of cells in the body or to remain stem cells. They are also capable of replicating themselves, or proliferation unlike already differentiated cells. (Robinson, 1998-2008). According to The National Institute of Health (NIH) (2006), “An important area of research is understanding the signals in a mature organism that causes a stem cell population to proliferate and remain unspecialized until the cells are needed for repair of a specific tissue” (para. II). Scientists need this information in order to understand the signals that begin stem cell differentiation and to further their research in the laboratory. This could lead to the growing of cells or tissues to be used for life saving cell-based therapies. TABThere are two distinct types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. The controversy revolves around the embryonic stem cells. The pro-lifers, Roman Catholics, and conservative Protestants among others, are opposed to stem cell research. In the United States, Congress is split in its opinion of stem cell research. Democrats, moderate Republicans and even a couple firm conservatives argue for stem cell research, while most of the conservatives oppose the research, siding with pro-lifers. (Citation here would have been good). In an attempt to please everyone comma now Ex-President Bush decided that federally funded research could continue, but only on cells that had already been extracted from embryos. No further “killing” was to be done using federal money. Those opposed to stem cell research believe that embryos have souls, so to extract the stem cells; which kill the embryo, is murder. Embryonic stem cells used for research result...
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