Essay on Stem Cells

Submitted By nlove1515
Words: 1595
Pages: 7

The Incredible Cell

Stem cell research is relatively new but offers the potential to yield a cure for some of the most tragic diseases of our world. Stem cell research was initiated in the early 1900s. Since then, stem cell research has expanded significantly as researchers search for cures, but it has also generated huge public resistance to using embryonic human cells for research purposes on moral and ethical grounds. In this research paper, stem cells will be explained and an argument presented as to why stem cell research should be allowed to continue; indeed, it should be supported. There is no general consensus as to who discovered stem cells. In the mid 1800s, “it was discovered that cells were basically the building blocks of life and that some cells had the ability to produce other cells” (Murnaghan). From that time on, cell study became a hot topic and launched the field of biotechnology, which is the intense study of cells (Panno xi). For one to choose a side of the debate he or she needs to fully understand what exactly a stem cell pertains and how stem cells can become such a vital part of curing diseases. Stem cell research is a subset of biotechnology. Stem cells are “special cells that have the ability to divide for an indefinite period and can give rise to a wide variety of specialized cell types.” Stem cells are complex and consist of a large amount of information. Scientists are learning how to coax stem cells into producing cell types that may be used to cure diseases. Diseases that affect the brain, spinal cord, or heart are ideal candidates for stem cell therapy, because these organs have lost the talents that stem cells retain, particularly the ability to proliferate and differentiate (Panno xi). These organs cannot repair themselves, but scientists believe that it is possible to train stem cells to replace the worn out blood cells. Scientists have confidence that stem cells can help eradicate cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and also some cancers (Panno xii). However, stem cell research has a setback that makes finding critical answers take more time. In 2013, the progression of stem cell research has exponentially grown, but so has the debate and controversy over how medical workers extract these cells. Research in humans for stem cells are assembled from various different sources. The least controversial source is through adult bone marrow or skin. An aborted fetus is another source, which is a human growing in the womb from the first eight weeks after fertilization until birth. Extracting from an embryo is the most controversial source of retaining stem cells. There is no possible way of getting the stem cells without destroying the embryo. The general way of getting to these embryos is from fertility clinics. The discarded embryos that couples no longer need or want can be considered for stem cell research. Controversy really began to rise when some scientists started to create embryos purposely for stem cell research. People saw this as “destroying potential human life” (“Stem...”). President George W. Bush had a strong stance on this issue and changed the law when he was in office. Currently today’s regulations state “researchers can only use embryonic stem cells not specifically obtained by destroying the embryos” (“Stem...”). In more understandable terms, embryos cannot be created solely for the purpose to be destroyed. The main question is, if scientists can extract stem cells from adult humans then why are they extracting from embryos and causing a heated debate? A study done in 2001 by National Institutes of Health, stated that there are differences between stem cells from different sources. In their studies, “embryonic stem cells are more plentiful and easier to extract. They also grow and multiply more easily than other stem cells. Stem cells taken from adults do not have the flexibility to develop into all types of cells” (“Stem...”). The main concept