The Importance of Stem Cell Research

Topics: Stem cell, Cellular differentiation, Embryonic stem cell Pages: 5 (1806 words) Published: June 14, 2012
The Importance of Stem Cell Research
Over the last decade the use of stem cells has been a controversial and heated topic. Debates have exploded over every aspect of stem cell research in nearly every region of the world. It has been speculated by scientists that stem cell research may have the power to potentially cure incredibly harmful diseases or even regrown organs. However some find that the health issues seen in earlier attempts to use stem cell transplants and ethical controversies involved with extracting stem cells, make it very dangerous to further investigate. In actuality the fact remains that the potential cures that may come from stem cell research could prove to be some of the most significant advances in modern medicine to this day. To understand why stem cell research is so valuable it’s vital to know what a stem cell is. A stem cell is defined as , “an unspecialized cell that gives rise to differentiated cells” ( Merriam-Webster,2009), meaning that stem cells don’t have a specific cell type, like a skin cell or a muscle tissue cell, but instead it will adjust to help a certain type of cell in need. By having this quality stem cells are thought to have the potential to find cures for many dreaded diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even paralysis. It is the powerful possibilities of stem cell research that make it such a valuable asset to the advancement of modern medicine. Possibly the most highly debated issues of stem cell research is the use of embryonic stem cells and whether their use is ethical. A blastocyst is a pre-implantation embryo that develops 5 days after the fertilization of an egg by a sperm. In its interior is the inner cell mass, which is composed of 30-34 cells that are referred to by scientists as pluripotent due to their ability to differentiate into all of the cell types of the body. (Stem...,2009). Because these cells are pluripotent , meaning they are able to differentiate into all cell types in the body, they are extremely malleable making them a scientific marvel worth researching. This state of pluripotency means that these cells can be used to replace old damaged tissues or help rebuild destroyed parts of the body. However the reason these cells are so controversial regardless of their highly flexible use and compatibility is “ because when scientists remove the inner cell mass, the blastocyst no longer has the potential to become a fully developed human being.(Stem..., 2009) thus meaning the fetus will no longer become a living organism. It is this fact that has raised concerns as to the highly subjective question of whether an embryo is a human being. As has been seen when laws on abortion have been addressed , the question of the rights of an unborn fetus are inherently controversial and complicate the issue of whether stem cell research is something to carry on with or to abandon because of the ethical issues at hand. Keeping in mind abortion is legal, the question of wether or not stem cell research should be legal becomes apparent. If the people in legal guardianship of the aborted fetus give the right for the fetus to be used for stem cell research and advancement of medical science why shouldn’t the stem cell be used for research as opposed to being thrown out? This issue has people divided between whether it was ethical for these stem cells to used aborted fetuses for research. “Some advocate using only stem cells from parts of the body, saying there's no reason to use embryonic cells. Other scientists insist that new insights will never be gained unless embryonic research continues.”(Kugler,2005). Throughout the presidency of George W. Bush’s the issue of embryonic stem cell research was one of the main topics to be debated in the public media. After a seemingly endless numbers of debates and arguments over wether stem cell was worth all the issues that came along with it, Congress created a bill to loosen the laws on embryonic stem cell...
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