The Heated Debate Concerning Stem Cell Research

Inside an embryo there are dozens of stem cells. They are basically empty shells, but the special thing about them is that they are pluripotent, meaning that they can develop in to any cell or organ in human body. That makes stem cell research a gigantic part of today’s medical research. With enough research, stem cells can be a big help to the human kind. Their extraordinary abilities could help scientists return memory to Alzheimer’s patients, or grow a man’s limb that had to be amputated due to some tragedy. But, they also have some flaws. As the name suggests, Embryonic stem cells can only be found in embryos and acquiring them destroys the embryo. Embryos are considered by many people to be alive; this creates a rather difficult question. Is it alright to take one life in order to save the other?
Stem Cell research can give the answer to many of the complicated events that come about during human development. According to the National Institutes of Health, “A primary goal of this work is to identify how undifferentiated stem cells become differentiated.” And since some of today’s worst medical condition, for example cancer, are the result of defective cell differentiation, this research could help better determine the cause of it and perhaps suggest a better cure. Another use of embryonic stem cells includes testing new drugs. Although stem cells are already in use for drug testing, they can only be used on specific differentiated cells that have the same properties as the disease of the drug they are being tested for. Due to embryonic stem cells’ pluripotent property, they can be used for any disease imaginable. But perhaps the most significant use of these stem cells is generation of cells or tissues to be used for cell-based therapy. For example, replacement of the cells or tissues can give scientists the ability to treat diseases like Parkinson’s disease, strokes, heart disease, and wide variety of other diseases.
Even though embryonic stem cells can be a great use to human kind, the fact is that this help comes at a terrible price. Embryonic stem cells can only be found in blastocyst of an embryo. There are those who believe that life begins at conception, so the blastocyst is a human life and to destroy it is unacceptable. Stem Cells can also be found in the umbilical cord of a baby just born. According to DO NO HARM, the coalition of Americans for research ethics, these stem cells are currently the only ones being used to treat humans, and have had positive results. Thanks to these cells, a number of drugs have been successfully tested and are now available. If less money is spent on the research of embryonic stem cells, the adult stem cell research could provide even greater advances. Another reason for abandoning this research is that all the promises made by scientists have not been proven. According to the Institute for Creation Research, they are all theories at best.
Embryonic stem cell research could be a great help to society, but it can also take it on a downward spiral. This research can give answers to questions that have been asked since the beginning of time. With it humans can, in a sense, be made better, not have to deal with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, and would make a lot of lives better. But in order to cure these diseases, we have to take the lives of those not even born yet. These cells could also make testing drugs better, but instead of using these cells if more research is done into other stem cells they could be more useful.
The research on embryonic stem cells has been a controversial topic ever since it was first suggested. Recently, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order removing barriers to scientific research involving human stem cells. But still there are those who are opposed to the president’s decision.

Works Cited
The National Institutes of Health. “Stem Cell Basics what are the potential uses of human stem cells and the obstacles that must be overcome before these potential uses will be realized?” Stem Cell Information. 20 Feb. 2008. Resource for stem cell research 20 Mar. 2009
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Watson, Stephanie. “How Stem Cells Work.” How Stuff Works. 11 Nov. 2004. How Stuff Works. 21 Mar. 2009
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DO NO HARM. “Stem Cell Report.” 2002. The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics. 22
Mar. 2009.
< stemcellresearch.org/stemcellreport/scr-2002-fall.htm>.
“What are embryonic cells and why are they important?” The Guardian. 9 Mar. 2009. 11 Aug. w 2009 .
W < http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/09/embryonic-stem-cells>.

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