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Embryonic Stem Cells: The Future Of Medicine

2281 words - 9 pages

Whereas there are many facets of medical research in the world at the present time, one of the more controversial continues to be stem cell research and more specifically, embryonic stem cell research. The percentage of groups and individuals who agree or disagree with this science are roughly equal on both sides of the argument. There are many quarrels within this one area including “should stem cell research be federally funded”, “is embryonic stem cell research ethical”, and “is the outcome of stem cell research worth it”? While there is no right or wrong answer to these questions, since the answer would vary depending on whom you ask, the argument regarding this topic remains quite passionate and heated.
Embryonic stem cell research is the medical study of cells taken from embryos before they are able to implant into a uterus. This procedure – harvesting the cells – ultimately destroys the embryo rendering it non-viable and unable to sustain life. Adult stem cell research is simply the study of stem cells harvested from adults and used in many areas of medicine. Numerous groups are opposed this sort of research because they feel it infringes on the right to life, while others do not believe that an embryo that has spent five days in a petri dish should be considered a human. In the 1800’s the first discovery of stem cells occurred. This discovery proved that some cells could spawn other cells. However, it was not until the early 1900’s that research demonstrated stem cells could generate blood cells. This was very promising in the medical community at that time since so many diseases ran rampant and were incurable. During the infancy of stem cell research, both animal and human stem cells were used. Now, for medical research, human stem cells are the staple. Stem cells are classified into three different categories. These categories are totipotent, pluripotent and multipotent. Totipotent cells are found only in early embryos while pluripotent cells are found in the inner cell mass of the blastocyst – an embryo that has had cell division for five days– that can form two hundred different cell types. Multipotent cells originate from cord blood, fetal tissues, and adult stem cells and have a record of achievement in cell-based therapies. Although stem cell research is quite controversial, the medical achievements thus far clearly prove the value of this type of exploration.
While many successes have been documented over the past twenty years regarding the advantage of stem cell research, and patients have benefited from the use of stem and embryonic cells, this is only the beginning. A study performed at the University of Miami Medical School’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute which eight patients signed up for a clinical trial that is intended to mend human hearts, has been proven a success. In this study, the first patient, a sixty-eight year old man who had suffered a heart attack eleven years earlier and frequently had...

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