Marley Emerich Gr. 9 Biology/Chemistry Stem Cells One World Essay Beijing BISS International School School Code: 1123Date Submitted: September 26, 2011
What if one cell could be the cure to cancer? What if one cell could cureParkinson’s disease, or a paralyzed body? Scientists worldwide are already hard at workin perfecting the art of Embryonic Stem Cell transplants. An embryonic stem cell istotipotent, which means it can become any cell in your body. For this reason embryonicstem cells are so valuable. Imagine a world where a simple stem cell transplant couldcure cancer or bring back someone’s paralyzed legs. Scientists harvest the stem cellsfrom an embryo and have been trying to cure illnesses and injuries with these cells.Embryonic Stem Cell research is a recent study only to spark interest around 1995.Because of its many ethical controversies, in 1999 the congress in the United Statesbanned any federal or government funding of the studies. Any studies and trials wouldhave to be funded privately. Until 2009, President Obama lifted the law and allowed thegovernment to fund the studies. , (2009, Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban, CBSNEWS) Now, with endless possibilities there is even more hope to what embryonic stemcell research can do. But there are many issues presented with the research as well.Ethical as well as political and some religious issues arise when the topic of embryonicstem cell research comes up. In this One World Essay I will discuss the science of stemcells and how to harvest them, the advantages and disadvantages of using them, andfinally the One World Issues and their relationship to the stem cell research. First off, Iwill describe the science of acquiring stem cells.
There are two main methods to acquiring stem cells. There is the method that requires embryonic stem cells and the method that uses therapeutic cloning to create stem cell lines. The method that most scientists are eager toFigure 1 -‐ One form of stem cell cultivation. Using IVF. (Stem Cells, Year Progress Report, perfect is embryonic whyflies.org stem cell method. This method is more useful because embryonic stem cells can become any other cell in your body. Figure 1 shows how it is done. The procedure begins with harvesting or taking a fertilized embryo that was made using In Vitro Fertilization from a donor. In Vitro Fertilization is a way of creating embryos without actual intercourse. The sperm is mixed with egg in a dish and then used either for research or planted in a woman’s uterus. After the embryo is fertilized, a scientist takes a single cell from the embryo, which is then put into a dish, which contains all vital nutrients and suitable environment for the cell to survive and grow. Scientists hope to use these cells to one day grow new healthy organs or cure diseases like cancer by replacing the mutated cells with new and healthy ones. (cord-blood-cells.com, Harvesting Embryonic Stem Cells) This is just one
of the procedures that involves stem cells but it is the one with the most controversy because you kill the embryo in the process. But learning about both the advantages and disadvantages of the research is a key element in why there is so much controversy in the research. There are many advantages to using stem cells. The biggest advantage is the ability to use the growing stem cells to make new organs and tissues. People worldwide have already been using adult, embryonic, and cloned stem cells to treat diseases like Figure 2 -‐ Since March of 2010, the amount of people treated with Parkinson’s or Leukemia. ScientistsStem Cell therapy for their conditions successfully. (Canadian Stem Cell Foundation Blog, 2010 have also successfully made bladders of all sizes out of stem cells. Dr. Anothony Atala (Wake Forest University) has created multiple bladders and almost every type of human cell. Bladders can easily be made outside of the human body, as can many other cells and even heart valves with the help of stem cells. Although some of the more complex cells like pancreas, liver, and nerve cells cannot survive growing in a dish. Another huge advantage to adult stem cell transplants in particular is that a donor can use his or her own tissue (or DNA) to generate new skin or other organs. This means that donors and doctors don’t have to worry about donor rejection or any infections that another person’s tissue could cause. Dr. Atala also discovered that amniotic fluids contain stem cells. This is another
advantage because their stem cells fluids can help regenerate the cells that can’t grow ina dish and have also proven to grow muscle and bone. (Alice Park, The Science ofGrowing Body Parts, www.time.com, 2007) One day, this process could work for everysingle organ and disease, and millions of sick people could be saved. But there arealways disadvantages to research like this as well. There are several disadvantages to using stem cells. One is the serious problemwith donor rejections. While with some cases donor rejection is not usually a problemthere is always the possibility of it. For example, if someone gets a bladder transplantmade by embryonic stem cells, there is a possibility the patients body would reject thetransplant because it detects it as a foreign object and would attack the organ. Thiscould cause serious illness or infections depending on the situation. Sometimes it’s notjust infection but instead the cells mutate and could cause tumors and at many times,cancer. Another disadvantage is, the process of getting donors is also a very long andpainful one. When women donate eggs it is not only very painful and costly, but awoman can only donate a certain amount of eggs at a time. For the women, there is arisk of infertility after the surgery. There is also the possibility of infection or bleedingwhich could possibly alter the woman’s fertility or ability to conceive children. IVF1, EggDonor Risks, ivf1.com) And with the limited amount of eggs a woman can donate at atime, over 500,000 women would have to be willing to do so for enough eggs forsuccessful research or transplants. This number is very unrealistic and is a majordisadvantage. So not only can stem cells be dangerous and the process be painful forboth the donor and patient, but also there are some major ethical issues presented with
it. Some people consider a child to be alive the minute it is conceived. Other peoplebelieve that it’s months until the child develops awareness and a brain for it to beconsidered alive in the mother’s womb. With every embryonic stem cell procedure, orbit of research, an embryo has to die. Embryos in this research are taken from theblastocyst, which is the embryo five days into gestation. But because the child has notreally formed, and was made for the purpose of stem cell research and made using in-vitro fertilization, it’s a debate on whether using the embryonic stem cells is killing ornot. Most scientists and many other people believe that using this embryo is not killing ahuman life and that the child has not formed at all and the embryo was made for thepurpose of research. If the problem people have with embryonic stem cell transplant isthe idea of killing a potential human that would grow and live, then they need to takeinto consideration that 73% of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) transplants don’t surviveanyway. That is, 1 out of 4 IVF transplants survive, so the embryo harvested probablywouldn’t have survived anyway. (http://reliableinfertilityanswers.com/ivf-statistics/)Although, there are many religious groups and people who think that from the momentof conception, that embryo is a living human soul. It is also a fact that at the moment ofconception, all the embryos DNA and genetic material is formed. This is technicallygiving it a unique structure and what some people believe to be its soul or personality.What would this child have become? What could he or she have done for the world if ithad been born? (Dónal P. OMathúna, PhD, http://cbhd.org, 2000) Even if it is helpinga human life, no one has the right to take away another. Both sides have good points,
but no one can say for certain which one is right. But there are also some political issuespresented with stem cells. Federal funding for stem cell research was banned for eight years in the UnitedStates. (B.A Robinson, Politics of Extracting New Stem Cell Lines,religioustolerance,org, 2003) In eight years, the amount of research and discoveriesthat could have been made are enormous. Because there was no government funding ofthe research, scientists doing trials and studies had to rely on donations alone. Religiousgroups would cause scenes and protests around the country because they disagreed withstem cell research. For this reason, the studies were frowned upon in the United Statesfor many years. Other countries such as China, Australia, and Singapore excelled inresearch for many years. In 2008, President Obama revoked the law because "medicalmiracles do not happen simply by accident," (2009, Obama Ends Stem Cell ResearchBan, CBS NEWS) and promised his administration would make up for the ground lostunder his predecessor. This was a major step and since then there has been moreprogress and discoveries with stem cells. But many people still strongly disagree withthe research. The protests and unhappiness of the people causes bad press and makesthe government look bad. There was much controversy that this was the reason that thegovernment banned the funding before, because it caused bad press. This was thereason the United States banned it. But in the end, this research is more beneficialtowards the government than it is bad. More people in the United States are beingtreated for diseases and injuries. The more discoveries the Untied States makes, themore the other countries who support stem cell research will approve of them. Thisresearch could possibly bring countries together peacefully. It aids the country
economically, politically, and it helps the thousands of people who are getting treated bystem cells. Personally, I find nothing wrong with Stem Cell research. If scientists can perfectit, every disease and injury will be able to be cured. Imagine a world with no sick. Noone dying of cancer or AIDS. There will never be anyone who can’t walk again. If thedonor is willing to give her egg for research then so be it. There was no real conception.The egg was made for research and hasn’t developed any consciousness or organs. It isnot a human. So in the end, stem cell research is a tremendous and amazing discoverythat has benefited the world in so many ways. It has cured diseases and injuries,harvested new organs, and saved lives. Whether or not it’s taking a life or not, theresearch has saved thousands upon thousands of lives and will continue to with theresearch still rolling in. The laws have been lifted and the doors to the discoveries haveopened. It’s not taking a life; it’s giving it back to the thousands who might lose it.
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