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  1. 1.  Embryonic Stem Cell Research The False Dilemma
  2. 2. Stem Cells  Initially, stem cells are those which develop into different cell types during growth.  Throughout life, stem cells repair damage done to our organs.  Three Unique Traits  1. Divide and renew  2. Unspecialized  3. Become specialized  Two Different Kinds  Embryonic (ESC)  Adult (ASC)
  3. 3. Embryonic Stem Cells Basic Facts  Derived from embryos  In vitro fertilization  NOT from eggs fertilized in a woman’s body  The Blastocyst  Four to five day old embryos
  4. 4. Adult Stem Cells Basic Facts  Derived from tissue samples as opposed to destroyed embryos  Undifferentiated cell found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ  Primary role is of maintenance and repair of the tissue to which they are associated
  5. 5. Similarities and Differences Embryonic Adult Pluripotent Grown easily in culture Transplant rejection unknown Immortal Morally controversial Limited differentiation Isolation is challenging Presumably less likely to reject Morally acceptable Finite Divide and Renew Unspecialized Become Specialized
  6. 6. Focusing in on Embryonic Stem Cells A human embryo in the blastocyst stage of development
  7. 7. 15 Leading Causes of Death in the US (2005) Rank Cause of Death Number % of Total Deaths 2005 Crude Death Rate 1 652,091 26.6 220.0 2 559,312 22.8 188.7 3 Cerebrovascular diseases 143,579 5.9 48.4 4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases 130,933 5.3 44.2 5 Accidents (unintentional injuries) 117,809 4.8 39.7 6 75,119 3.1 25.3 7 71,599 2.9 24.2 8 Influenza and pneumonia 63,001 2.6 21.3 9 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis 43,901 1.8 14.8 10 Septicemia 34,136 1.4 11.5 11 Intentional self-harm (suicide) 32,637 1.3 11.0 12 Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 27,530 1.1 9.3 13 Essential (primary) hypertension and hypertensive renal disease 24,902 1.0 8.4 14 19,544 0.8 6.6 15 Assault (homicide) 18,124 0.7 6.1 Diseases of heart Malignant neoplasms Diabetes mellitus Alzheimer’s disease Parkinson’s disease
  8. 8. The Dilemma Opposition of ESC Research  Controversy stemming from ESC research has developed into a social and ethical challenge.  The status of the human embryo
  9. 9.  Key Moral Issues in the ESC Research Debate OpposingViews
  10. 10. 1.Value of Life Status of the Embryo  Faustian Bargain: Cures at the cost of the destruction of embryos  Human embryo (the blastocyst) deserves the same rights and respect as a human being  Right to life
  11. 11.  Response to Opposition Value of Life The human embryo deserves the same rights and respect as a human being.✗ Problem with this view: Assumptions that an embryo has not only the moral status of a person, but also a “super status” that outweighs the needs of others, and that it is a person’s genetic material alone that establishes his or her moral value Opponents of ESC research argue that at this stage in development, an embryo is of the same moral value of a person. Considering the Facts Lacks the following:Consciousness Ability to experience surroundings Potential to feel pain EmotionsMemory Ability to reason Ability to imagine the future Physical resemblance to a person The only trait of moral value is human DNA
  12. 12. 2. Pro-Life The Pro-Life Perspective  The majority of pro-lifers who are opposed to funding ESC research base their opinions off of the belief that the money will go towards research dealing with aborted fetuses.  A legitimate concern, but it is entirely applicable in this context.  A vast majority of ESC’s used in medical research come from fertility clinics.
  13. 13.  Pro-Life The Real Issue The real issue the pro- life advocates and opponents of ESC research should consider is that of fertility clinics. Fertility (IVF) clinics are the most readily available source of embryos for stem cell research Infertility Treatment -Fertility hormones are taken to produce about 10-20 eggs at one time -Physicians harvest these eggs with a surgical procedure -Physician then attempts to create embryos out of all of the eggs -Fertilization often produces 8-12 embryos -Physician chooses the best embryos for implantation (about 3)
  14. 14.  After Implantation/Excess Embryos The Real Issue: IVF Clinics 97% of American IVF clinics reported that they create more embryos than they intend to implant If the excess embryos are not used for research, nearly all will be disposed of and destroyed. Some embryos may be kept frozen until (a) the couple has reached/conceived their desired amount of children or (b) the embryos are “adopted” “Embryo adoption” takes place when embryos are implanted into an unrelated mother… …as of 2005, only 81 children had been born through embryo adoption As for the embryos that were implanted… The embryos that were “good enough” to be used for implantation now have to battle it out. Several are implanted with hopes that one will survive. In other words, several embryos are implanted with hopes that all but one will NOT survive. Doctors take measures to ensure this will happen.
  15. 15. 3. Alternatives Adult Stem Cells  The accumulation of AS cells is often preferred because it does not involve the destruction on an embryo.  People get the impressions that AS cells are comparable to ES cells.
  16. 16. TheTruth Behind Adult Stem Cells
  17. 17. FinalThoughts