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Federal Funds Should Be Used For Embryonic Stem Cell Research

1600 words - 6 pages

Are embryonic stem cells the cure to many of the human body’s ailments, including defective organs and crippling diseases, or is their use a blatant disregard of human rights and the value of life?  Thanks to the rapid advancements in this field, the potential benefits of stem cells are slowly becoming reality.  However, embryonic stem cell research is an extremely divisive topic in the United States thanks to the ethical issues surrounding terminating embryos to harvest the stem cells.  In response to this debate, Congress passed the Dickey-Wicker amendment in 1995 to prohibit federal funding of research that involved the destruction of embryos.  President Bush affirmed this decision, but more recently President Obama lifted many of these restrictions.  Despite the significant portion of Americans that do not support embryonic stem cell research, it should be federally funded because of the potential health benefits, the definition of human, and the opportunity to clearly define regulations for ethical research.
The wide range of prospective uses for stem cells could greatly improve the health and wellbeing of many people.  In stem cell treatments, undifferentiated cells are programmed to form specific cells, which can then be transplanted to the afflicted area.  Stems cells can possibly treat afflictions including “Alzheimer’s diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis” (“Stem Cell Basics”).  Another important use is in drug testing. Drugs can be tested on stem cells that develop into the target tissue before using it on human test subjects, which improves safety.  Finally, transplantation of organs created from stem cells could eliminate the need for human organ donors.  The type of stem cell that is the most promising is embryonic because it is completely pluripotent, or undifferentiated.  It has the ability to form any type of specific cell and thus has the greatest potential for treatments in the near future.  A more recent development in stem cell research is the creation of induced pluripotent cells, which are adult cells that become undifferentiated through a series of treatments.  Induced pluripotent stem cells have a number of benefits because the destruction of embryos is not necessary and there are no issues with immune response or rejection because the cells come from the patient.  However, it will be a long time before this type of cell become widely used on humans because the method used is not completely understood and has negative side effects.  In animal testing, “…the virus used to introduce the stem cell factors sometimes causes cancers” (“Stem cell basics”).  Therefore, embryonic stem cells should be an important part of stem cell research.  Even if induced pluripotent cells can replace embryonic cells in the future, the knowledge gained from current embryonic cell research would still be very applicable.   Unfortunately, research is very time and...

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