Applications of Biotechnology: Stem Cell Research and the Human Genome Project Stem Cells Stem cells are unspecialized cells found in large quantities in bodies of fetuses and in some parts of the adult body. These unspecialized cells are capable of forming other organs, which make it one of the controversial issues in medical ethics. The benefits of stem cell transplant are very huge, but the ethical moral dilemma always enters as many groups question the ethicality of the procedure that stem cell transplant requires.
Stem cells are relevant in the development of an organism. It forms other specific cells, and is also capable of repairing or replacing other damaged cells in the body. The cells are cultivated from the human embryo, which formed 4-5 days after the egg cell undergoes fertilization by the aid of the sperm cell. It can also be obtained from a fetus between its 5th and 9th week, which will actually be aborted (Experiment Resources, 2008). Stem cell transplant has a potential application for cell-based therapies.
Today, illnesses that require organ transplantation become problematic, since the number of patients in need for organ transplant outweighs the number of available organs. Scientists must first be able to manipulate the stem cells for them to possess the necessary characteristics for differentiation, transplantation and engraftment (National Institute of Health, 2009). The stem cells are incorporated to the tissue of the damaged organ or the organ that has to be replaced. The stem cells proliferate extensively and generate enough cells to form the tissue.
The stem cells differentiate into the desired cell type and must survive into the body of the patient. The tissues then integrate to the surrounding tissue after transplant and later on function appropriately as part of the formerly damaged tissues (National Institute of Health, 2009). The members of the society reacted differently as stem cell research progresses to its development. The ethical considerations are still on a long debate. The intensity of debates is due to life itself. For countries allowing abortion, the application of stem cell research would be a lot of help.
But for those countries which are conservative, especially those that have active religious movements, stem cell research would always be in question. The instance that the success of this research would be misused is also an on-going debate. The Human Genome Project Human genomic mapping was first introduced in the year 1980, with the first map produced in 1987 (cited in Toga & Mazziota, 2002, p. 15). It excited the interest among scientists, which later led to the conceptualization of the human Genome Project. This $3 billion project contributed a lot to the understanding of human biology.
Most especially, it determined the huge importance of developing the biological map (Toga and Mazziota, 2002, p. 15). Neuroscience is the field that benefits the most in human genomic mapping. The development of these maps is relevant into monitoring of the presence of diseases, such as the Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and cystic fibrosis. Common diseases such as the Alzheimer’s disease have also been detected in maps. Maps are incorporated in a database that is accessible to molecular biologists. Scientists may also add maps of newly discovered diseases useful in future studies.
This created a large network of scientists exchanging information and resources. The interaction among scientists is led by the Human Genome Organization, responsible particularly for the management of chromosome workshops. The continuation of the human genome project opened opportunities to technological fronts and progress to other fields of scientific endeavors. New types of genetic markers have been developed for assay for better experimental strategies and computational methods. Collectively, these methods help in assembling the results in to physical maps (Toga & Mazziota, 2002, p. 15).
Genomics has a considerable potential for the improvement of the health situation of the developing countries in the future. Illness can already be traced and cured by genetic interventions. Thus, improving the healthcare leads to relief in human suffering (Colson & Cameron, 2004, 2004, pp. 63-64). References Colson, C. W. & N. M. de S. Cameron. (2004). Human dignity in the biotech century: a Christian vision for public policy. Retrieved May 19, 2009, from http://books. google. com/books? id=ygIiRL7mQBkC&pg=PA63&dq=advantage+benefits+human+genomic+map&as_brr=3#PPA63,M1 Experiment Resources. (2008). Stem Cell Research – Pros and Cons.
Retrieved May 18, 2009, from Experiment Resources: http://www. experiment-resources. com/stem-cell-pros-and-cons. html National Institute of Health. (2009, April 28). Stem Cell Basics: What are the potential uses of human stem cells and the obstacles that must be overcome before these potential uses will be realized? Retrieved May 18, 2009, from http://stemcells. nih. gov/info/basics/basics6. asp Toga, A. W. & J. C. Mazziota. (2002). Brain mapping: the methods. 2nd ed. Retrieved May 19, 2009, from http://books. google. com/books? id=mBBYKllGwZYC&pg=RA1-PA15&dq=benefits+advantage+of+having+human+genomic+map&as_brr=3#PRA1-PA14,M1