Legalize Stem Cell Research

Imagine waking up from a tragic accident that left you paralyzed from the neck
down, would you have hope that you could ever recover? What if there was research
that the use of stem cells could lead to potential treatments and cures? According to the
National Institute of Health, stem cells in certain organs, have the ability to divide into
other cells that are used to “repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues” (NIH).
Although stem cell research raises ethical concerns, it should be legalized due to the
possibility of medical advancements and cures of numerous diseases.
Stem cell research benefits because it will help enlighten scientists’ knowledge in
the biology of human development which could be helpful to future findings. In “Stem
Cell Research and Applications” by Audrey Chapman, Ph.D., stem cells are stated to be
“unspecialized cells that are thought to be able to reproduce themselves indefinitely
and, under the right conditions, to develop into mature cells, e.g., nerve, skin, pancreas,
with specialized functions” (Chapman). They are different from normal cells because
they are unspecialized, meaning that they are not committed to a specific cell or tissues
function. Another thing stem cells can do that ordinary cells cannot do is divide for long
periods of time. If the stem cell divides and is still unspecialized, then the cells can
usually repair themselves. Also, if the stem cell becomes a specialized cell, it could
potentially become a number of different cell types.
There are three main types of stem cells. They are adult, umbilical cord, and
embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can become almost any cell type in the
body, and adult stem cells are restricted to the tissue from which they were taken from.
Adult stem cells are also harder to grow in cultures, where embryonic stem cells are
more plentiful in culture. Umbilical cord blood stem cells could be used to help treat
diseases that could potentially be cured through bone marrow transplants.
In addition, stem cell research offers hope to those who suffer daily from
Parkinson’s disease, neurological failures, cancer, and other medical problems.
There are billions of people worldwide who suffer from a wide range of diseases. Stem
cell research could be the key to finding cures for some of these diseases. Adult or
embryonic stem cells can be used to aid in finding cures. This could be done through
scientist researching and understanding why a certain gene may be faulty. According to
the National Institute of Health, scientist have already discovered “ways to treat
diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and several inherited blood disorders by harvesting
hematopoietic stem cells or HSC’s” (NIH). Stem cells could potentially cure some
disease by either repairing the cell with faulty genes, or by multiplying as new
specialized cells without the genetic defect.
Above all, Stem cells have been tested on animals and have produced promising
results. This can be offered for the benefits of human also, if it were legalized.
Consistently with Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D’s article, “Stemmed Progress,” researchers at
the John Hopkins University have found that the usage of “embryonic stem cells helped
paralyzed mice walk” (Moreno Ph.D). This is significant because humans and mice
have some similar internal functions and are both mammals. With the result that
paralyzed mice were now able to walk due to embryonic stem cells, this could even lead
to finding treatments for people suffering from quadriplegia. With further research with
stem cells, scientists may be able to one day find a breakthrough that could help
these people walk again.
However, the major issues of stem cell research are the ethical concerns about
the moral values involved. Most people who do not agree with stem cell research
believe that the human embryo is regarded as a human being and if we destruct an
embryo, we are destructing a vital life. People who oppose abortion are also against
stem cell research. Some individuals believe that destroying embryos for research is
wrong because there was possibility for life. According to “The Ethics of Embryonic
Stem Cell Research” by Howard Curzer, “research on donated embryonic stem cells is
wrong because research on donated embryonic stem cells, harvesting embryonic stem
cells, and destroying embryos in order to obtain stem cells are all parts of the same
enterprise” (Curzer) This just states that because stem cell research involves embryonic
stem cells, it is participating in the destruction of life, even if not directly. Yet, we cannot
be held accountable for one’s decision to abort an embryo. If this is their decision and
the embryo would have been destroyed anyway, we should make use of it for medical
advancements and benefits. Therefore, we are using what would have otherwise been
destroyed as an advantage to help save lives of those in need. For example, if my
grandparents had lost some cells due to a small accident, the embryonic stem cells that
would have been discarded could possibly help my grandparents recover their lost cells.
Therefore, I would highly suggest making use of every donated embryo before it is
discarded.
Then again, there are also people who are not completely against stem cell
research, but embryonic stem cell research. Hadley Arkes, Ph.D., a senior at the
Ethics and Public Policy Center, believes “embryonic stem cells are not as stable as
adult stem cells” (Arkes Ph.D) But further a due, adult stem cells are restricted from the
body that they were taken from, while embryonic stem cells have the ability to become
any cell type within the body because it is not fully formed yet. Thus, adult stem cells
are limited to what they are specialized for.
Works Cited

Arkes, Ph.D., Hadley. “Senseless on Stem Cells: Why Advocate Research That Destroys Nascent Human Beings?” Leadership University. National Review Online, 24 Aug. 2004. Web. 20 Mar. 2010. .
Chapman, Ph.D., Audrey R., Mark S. Frankel, Ph.D., and Michele S. Garfinkel, Ph.D. “Stem Cell Research and Applications.” Advancing Science. Serving Society. American Association for the Advancement of Science and Institute for Civil Society. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. < http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/projects/stem/report.pdf>.
Curzer, Howard J. “The Ethics Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (2004): 533-62. Academic Search Elite. Web. 21 Mar. 2010.
Moreno, Ph.D., Jonathan D., and Sam Berger. “Stemmed Progress.” The American Prospect. The American Prospect, 18 July 2006. Web. 20 Mar. 2010. .
National Institue of Health. “Stem Cell Basics: Introduction [Stem Cell Information].” NIH Stem Cell Information Home Page. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. .
Weiss, Rick. “The Stem Cell Divide.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 20 Mar. 2010.

 

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