The Positive Potential Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

1363 words - 5 pages

Imagine a world in which suffering and pain are no more. A paralytic accident is no longer a lifelong sentence to a wheelchair, a birth defect is no longer a worry on an expectant mothers mind, and a cancer diagnosis becomes worriless and easily fixed. Such a carefree and safe existence is in close proximity with advancements from embryonic stem cell research. Since the first culturing of embryonic stem cells in 1998 (Robertson 191) the question has arisen if it is ethical to destroy life at its rudimentary stages for the sake of research. Embryonic Stem Cell research is a vital step in developing important and major medical breakthroughs, and for the acquisition of greater knowledge and understanding of the human system.
An Embryo is a small cluster of cells developed just after fertilization. This cluster of cells loses embryo status 14 days after fertilization. During the 14 days, the cluster of cells is primarily composed of undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells. These are the origin cells for every cell in the human body, meaning they have the ability to differentiate into any cell type, be it liver, skin, eye, etc. This ability is an incredibly rare and valuable trait for a cell to possess, as no adult human cells are naturally pluripotent. Embryonic stem cell research is a process in which human embryos, donated with informed consent from an in-vitro clinic, are researched in order to better understand the developmental processes in humans and how a wide range of diseases are caused and progress. The pre-implantation stage embryo is donated from a clinic and then cultured in a Petri dish on a controlled culture medium. This controlled medium can be altered and drive the differentiation of the stem cells, giving researchers the ability to manufacture any type of cell or tissue that is needed (Stem Cell Basics). Because of the versatility of embryonic stem cells they are the pristine cells to use in such vital research.
Many who oppose human embryonic stem cell research offer the claim that the same research can be done with the use of adult stem cells. Since adult stem cells were successfully induced into pluripotency, the argument has raged that using embryos is unethical whilst adult stem cells, which do not terminate the life of the donor, are available. In an interview, Jonathan Moreno, Professor of Medical Ethics and of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, argued for the fact that the necessity remains for human embryonic stem cells. He stated, "There may be some biological limits to the utility of alternative sources." and also, "the techniques now being used (to induce pluripotency in adult cells) involve a genetic factor that is carcinogenic."(Masci) With the unknown versatility of these adult stem cells the need for embryonic continues. The ability to compare adult stem cells with embryonic, while the science to revert them is still underway, is essential to producing effective, safe,...

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