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Position Supporting Stem Cell Research Essay

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Cells that can make a distinction into a variety of cell types are called stem cells and comprise embryonic stem (ES) cells and adult stem cells. Since ES cells can turn into a new organism or can differentiate into any tissue type, they are said to be “totipotent.” Adult stem cells, conversely, as they cannot turn into any type of tissue, are said to be “pluripotent.” For instance, bone marrow stem cells can turn into red blood cells, T-lymphocytes, or B-lymphocytes, however not muscle or bone cells.

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Nerve stem cells can as well turn into different types of nerve tissue. Stem cell research attempts to engineer tissues from the body’s stem cells to replace defective, damaged, or aging tissues. In 1998, scientists were capable to grow human ES cells indefinitely. Since then, researchers have performed stem cell experiments on mammals and have had some achievement in repairing spinal chord injuries in mice.

Since scientists cannot use federal funds to carry out research on embryos, private corporations, most particularly the Geron Corporation, have funded ES cell research. Geron, awaiting possible ethical concerns, appointed its own ethics advisory board. The Clinton administration sought to loosen the interpretation of the ban on embryo research to permit the government to sponsor research on the use of ES cells once they were available. President G. W. Bush had made the decision to permit use merely of about sixty existing cell lines, and not the production of embryonic cell lines particularly made for the purpose of use for stem cells[1].

The majority of the stem cell procedures proposed to date would employ the ES cells from embryos formed by couples in fertility clinics. In the United States, thousands of embryos are discarded each year as IVF couples cannot use all of their embryos. A couple may make three-hundred embryos in an attempt give birth to one child. One more approach to stem cell research suggests that researchers make embryos for scientific and medical purposes. This approach, recognized as therapeutic cloning, or somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), engrosses transferring the nucleus from a cell in a person’s body into an enucleated egg[2].

The ES cells from this new embryo would match the tissue in the person’s body, therefore avoiding the potential tissue rejection problems that might occur in stem cell therapy. The potential of stem cell research is huge, for the reason that so many diseases result from tissue damage. Stem cell research could bring about advances in treating paralysis, diabetes, heart disease, pancreatitis, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, arthritis, as well as many further conditions. [3]

Thus human pluripotent stem cell research is very important as firstly it propose help in understanding the actions that take place during normal human development. The understanding of human cell development could make possible further understandings regarding how abnormalities such as cancer occur. Secondly this research helps us to find out why some cells turn into heart cells whereas other cells turn into blood cells. Although it has been previously recognized that a gene turning on and off is central to cell development, however it is not recognized what makes these gene turn on and off–stem cell research will most probably give a possible explanation. In a realistic sense this could make possible further understandings of cell development abnormalities.

Thirdly pure samples of specific cell types could be used for testing different chemical compounds so as to develop medicines to treat disease[4]. This would make more efficient the process of medical testing in order that merely medicines that have a helpful effect on cell lines would be tested on animals and humans. And most significantly this research could be very helpful for cell transplantation therapies. Theoretically, stem cells could be “grown” into replacements for diseased or destroyed cells[5]. This would permit medical science to get to the bottom of diseases of organ failure for instance diabetes as well as neurological disorders for instance Parkinson’s disease.

The main protest to this promising research has to do with the source of ES cells. ES cells can be acquired from aborted embryos, embryos remaining after infertility treatments (IVF), embryos created only for research by IVF techniques, and from SCNT techniques (that is therapeutic cloning)[6]. To get ES cells, consequently, one have to either create embryos that will be used, manipulated, or destroyed, or one have to get embryos leftover from infertility treatments. However here is where the abortion debate resurfaces, as these techniques would engross treating embryos as mere things or objects and would not give embryos the esteem they deserve, as said by some critics.

That is to say that a proper, fair and realistic account of what comes out of the freezer is a 5-day-old ball of about 150 cells, and of that the researchers will want to use about 30. What comes out of the freezer is unquestionably human tissue however it is not human. That ball of cells has no hope at all of becoming a human being without further intervention. One must not confuse the existence of a chance of becoming a human being with actually being human. The tissue can be likened to organs taken from a lately deceased person for transplant. Neither the organ nor the tissue is dead; it is human tissue but it is not human. One may say the same of sperm, for instance, every sperm must be protected that is available for the reason that it might, under circumstances where other things have to happen, become a human.

That is practically the same thought. What has to happen there is that the sperm has to meet with an egg to fertilize that egg, which then has to be looked after. What has to happen with a 5-day-old ball of cells in which the egg and sperm have previously met is that it after that has to be implanted in a woman and stay there for nine months. In both cases nothing is going to happen unless other things are brought into play. It is a very strong view that it is not being talked about a human, rather about human tissue that will with the intervention of others, and only with the intervention of others, has the chance of becoming human.

A parent’s right must be supported to demand that any of these untouched fertilized eggs be left untouched for afterward use or not be used for research. Very few, if any, parents who have had the advantage of the IVF program would refuse the chance for spare fertilized eggs to be used. They themselves turned to the wonders of science to give them what apparently nature was otherwise going to deny them, those who through the wonders of science have had what must have been their greatest dream realized would definitely not deny the chance for science to make better things for others. After all, how many fertilized eggs at varying stages of development were used in the IVF programs to get to the point where one could have a successful IVF program? … [7]

Some supporters of this bill do not deny where one is now with the science. He just wants science to have the opportunity to take him to further and better places. One cannot say that there is no practical application of this now, so not do the research. That is the equal of saying to a child that you are not permitted to swim in the pool until you have learned to swim. How can one possibly refuse to do research on the basis that he does not have the researchers’ outcomes? One can not get those outcomes until he proceeds with the research. So, again, one must be very much on the side of proceeding with stem cell research.

Some of the objections which have their foundation in a religious view held by their proponents. Living by a decent set of values is far more vital than defending the doctrine of one church over another. If you lead a good life and if there is a kingdom of heaven you will be welcome into his or heaven. Your religion is your business and no-one else’s. When you make your religion an issue, you drag it into the political domain and you tarnish it. It follows that we attach very little importance or interest to arguments over religious dogma. Similarly, we do not turn to the state to legislate for one religious view over another. Without doubt, we can clearly see the risks of adopting a view that your religion is the right one and the rest of the world must be converted.

This point is quite simple: each to his own religion. If you say to one that doing something is against God’s will, then he will respond by assuring you that, if God is annoyed, God will punish whoever has done that thing. The state should never be used as God’s enforcer. Over the years, as we have been approaching 50, we can assure you that we have every confidence in God’s capability to settle accounts. It has not been our experience that he or she usually waits until you are dead. Numerous people who have done the wrong thing have met their maker in a practical sense while they were still alive[8].

In brief, we are talking about fertilized eggs that are in the freezer. They have not the slightest chance of becoming human unless they are accepted by the mother to be carried for 9 months. We are talking about fertilized eggs where that is not the case. The outcome is that they are either going in the bin or going to be used for the betterment of mankind. My other proposition is that we cannot now say whether the science is good or bad. We do not know where the science is going to take us.

Science of itself is not fundamentally good or bad; it is what we do with it that will make that case. We have to understand that the benefits of this research may take years to come. That merely makes us say: start more quickly. We simply ask those who, due to their religious beliefs, have a very authentic concern regarding this bill to accept that they are entitled to follow their religious beliefs; they are not entitled to demand by legislation that everybody else does the same.

References:

Adil E. Shamoo, David B. Resnik. Responsible Conduct of Research; Oxford University Press, 2003

Daniel Callahan. What Price Better Health? Hazards of the Research Imperative; University of California Press, 2003

John Harris. On Cloning; Routledge, 2004

Sandra Braman. Biotechnology and Communication: The Meta-Technologies of Information; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004

Thomas Kemp. “The Stem Cell Debate: A Veblenian Perspective”; Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 38, 2004.

[1] Daniel Callahanpg 55

[2] John Harris, pg 90

[3] Daniel Callahan, pg 67-69

[4] Thomas Kemp, pg 6

[5] ibid

[6] John Harris, pg 78-79

[7] Sandra Braman, pg 105

[8] Adil E. Shamoo, David B. Resnik, pg 210

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