Over the course of the last several years, advancements in biotechnology have spawned revolutionary new ideas toward improving the health of critically ill patients. One of the most notable advancements has been the use of stem cells to regenerate tissue in the body and cure disease such as Type I diabetes. While stem cell research is still in its infancy it represents one of the most important tools for the future development of biological science.[i] Considering the advantages of stem cell research, experts in the field have noted that this process of stem cell research enables biomedical professionals to develop treatments and possible cures for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes.[ii] This is because when stem cells are harvested from either the embryo or the adult they can be programmed to become any cell or tissue in the body. Thus, for patients with Type I diabetes that have no insulin producing cells in their pancreas, these cells can be grown in the laboratory and transplanted in the patient with the hope that these cells will produce insulin and cure the individual suffering with this disease. The same type of theory regarding the treatment of other degenerative disease has been proposed.[iii] Despite the fact that stem cell research appears to hold the promise for improving the lives of millions of individuals with debilitating diseases, controversy over the practice has made it difficult for some researchers to advance the stem cell research. Exploring the specific controversies that are prompting debate overall, it is clear that the use of embryonic stem cells for research has been viewed as an ethical quagmire due to the fact that it calls into question protecting the life of a fetus. In the process of embryonic stem cell research, the cells needed for creating new tissue are taken from the blastula produced 3 to 5 weeks after the fertilization of the human egg.[iv] As such, many laymen and professionals...
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Dolgin, J.L. “Embryonic discourse, abortion, stem cells and cloning.” Issues in Law & Medicine, 19(3), (2004, Spring): 203-261.
Friedrich, M.J. “Researchers make the case for human embryonic stem cell research.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 292(7), (2004, August 18): 791-793.
Gershon, Diane. “Stem-cell research.” Nature, 422(6934), (2003, April 24): 928-930.
“Scientists show adult blood stem cells can transform into brain cells in people.” Blood Weekly, (2004, June 3): 18-20.
[ii]Diane Gershon. “Stem-cell research.” Nature, 422(6934), (2003, April 24): 929.
[iii]E.N. Chang. “Transplantation: Focus on kidney, liver and islet cells.” Canadian Journal of Surgery, 47(2), (2004, April): 122.
[iv]J.L. Dolgin. “Embryonic discourse, abortion, stem cells and cloning.” Issues in Law & Medicine, 19(3), (2004, Spring): 204.
[v]“Scientists show adult blood stem cells can transform into brain cells in people.” Blood Weekly, (2004, June 3): 19.
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