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Conflict Between Stem Cell Research And Ethics

1382 words - 6 pages

Stem cells are a large focus of study in today's biomedical world. They are also a large focus in the world of ethics, politics and religion.Embryonic stem cell research is one of the most important breakthroughs in biomedicine. The discovery of these cells has created a huge potential for improving and prolonging our lives. This study has opened a debate to some of the most severe and difficult questions about the value of life itself and the use of embryos.The potential therapeutic benefits of Human Embryonic Stem Cell (HESC) research provide strong arguments in favor of the research. Scientist looked at HESC from a strict perspective that the potential health benefits outweigh the loss of embryos. Those who oppose the research argue against killing innocent human embryos. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2008)Imagine a world where organ transplant surgery could take place without a person dying or donating an organ. This existed in the laboratories until 1988 when the first successful use of cord blood containing stem cells for transplantation were successfully used. Since 1988 more than 70,000 worldwide umbilical cord-blood banks have been established. Approximately 2,000 transplantations have been done, predominantly for children, but occasionally for adults too (Burgio, Gluckkman, and Locatelli, 2003).Stem cells give rise to every type of cell in the body: skin, muscle, bone, heart, liver, kidney, brain and 250 other types of specialized cells. They have an endless capacity for self-renewal, in new medical therapies for people with spinal cord injuries or diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson's.Researchers at Northwestern University conducted a trial using patients' own stem cells to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Although the study group was small; only 21 patients participated in it, the findings are a huge breakthrough in the fight against MS. The patient's own stem cells are stimulated to grow more cells then harvested. Next, chemotherapy is used to wipe out the immune system. The treatment lasts nearly a month. Then the previously harvested stem cells were transplanted back. At present the symptoms of MS have completely disappeared. (Treating MS Symptoms With Stem Cells, 2009)Research shows promise in the use of stem cells. Stem cells are believed to prolong life and restore function to injured body parts. Researchers regard stem cells as having the greatest potential to heal human since the development of antibiotics. This research has spurred debates on the ethics and morals surrounding stem cell use. Human stem cells research is a very emotional and controversial issue.Debates surrounding this issue is complicated by social standards, religious beliefs, personal or societal needs, and personal morals. The debate begins with the source of the stem cells. Stem cells come in three forms: embryonic stem cells, embryonic germ cells, and adult stem cells.Adult stem cells come from bone marrow and their uses are limited. Stem...

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