Stem Cell Research Needs to Be Funded

A mother has developed Alzheimer’s, preventing her from having a normal relationship with her family. A newly born baby girl has a spinal cord issue, making for many years of rehabilitation ahead her. A diabetic wife struggles to take care of her household duties because of constantly having to monitor her blood sugar and deal with insulin shots. With the development of stem cell research, and the more controversial embryonic stem cell research, every one of these instances could not only be cured, but prevented, within the next half century. In fact, diseases that are predicted to be treated by means of stem cell research are figured to now plague the likes of 100 million Americans. Looking at the arguments dealing with stem cell research, it is evident that the advantages of stem cell research greatly outweigh the disadvantages that numerous people take the side of. Although those who disagree on the topic of stem cell research have their arguments against stem cell research, not even they can disagree with the fact that stem cell research has the potential to change disease treatment in our world as we know it. Taking my stand on the situation, I declare that the benefits of stem cell research in any form prevail over the moral costs because of the countless benefits it can bring to the medical community.
Stem cell research became a topic of discussion back in the 1970s, just a short while after the Roe v. Wade ruling was made by the Supreme Court. At the time, science was not advanced enough to act on the potential of stem cells, consequently not causing much debate aside from issues over the amount of funding that was appropriate for the research. All that was really known about stem cells was that they had the potential to be reproduced into an unlimited amount of body tissues, which could cure many debilitating diseases. This news was welcome news for the medical society, and those suffering from such a disease. Since the 1970s, stem cell research has been funded to study, but not until 1998 were embryonic stem cells able to get isolated, giving them potential to be turned into an unlimited variety of cell types. In 1998, Dr. James Thompson at the University of Wisconsin first discovered how to successfully isolate human embryonic stem cells. This discovery created much debate from a philosophical, religious, political, and moral standpoint. The division of viewpoints was especially prevalent after this discovery because in order to isolate an embryonic stem cell for research, it must be destroyed. Even though it is many times the case that the debate of stem cell research is a matter of someone being pro-life or pro-choice, this is not always the case. In fact, it is found that many people are opposed to human suffering more than anything, causing them to agree with embryonic stem cell research as a way to potentially alleviate human suffering due to disease. There are many different religions with radical followers that do believe that a human embryo contains at least some moral status, making the destruction of a human embryo considered to be murder. Then there is the philosophical point that some take that an embryo has no moral status because it isn’t able to anticipate the future, or have any personal desires for its’ future. Although there are different opinions on the exact moral status of an embryo, a general consensus would show that an embryo has less moral status than that of a newly-born baby, but more than that of other cells. This being said, there are constant political issues regarding the restriction that should be set on stem cell research, making for constant debate on that issue as well.
To understand exactly what is under debate, the types of stem cells that are able to be researched must be discussed. There are two different types of stem cells that are currently leading the way in scientific research. Adult stem cells are cells that have not yet been designated to a specific type of cell, but are thought to be able to renew themselves into specialized cells of tissue and organs. Adult stem cell research began around 50 years ago, and more recently is causing excitement due to their potential to be used in transplantation-based therapies. The second type of stem cell is the embryonic stem cell. As the name suggests, an embryonic stem cell is retained from an embryo. These embryos are made useful by in-vitro fertilization, or fertilization in a clinical setting, where they are most often donated for research. Of the two types of stem cells, science has proven that embryonic stem cells have the greatest potential for future medicinal use, while adult-derived stem cells have had the most impact medically up to this point.
Many of the problems that arise over the debate of stem cell research are due to a lack of open-mindedness for all aspects of that branch of science. As previously stated, issues over this research generally comes from religious, moral, political, and/or philosophical standpoints. Since I was still unsure about many of the specific details, I decided to watch a film that was made by renowned expert on stem cells, Dr. Lawrence Goldstein. Throughout the hour film of stem cell research, I was able to tie up the loose ends in between all of the various standpoints.
Stem cell research is crucial to the development of regenerative medicine in our world. That is for the obvious reason that stem cell research has already began, and will continue in the future, to be responsible for life-changing treatment that can treat, and/or cure, many diseases. The diseases that are predicted to be benefited by stem cell research currently plague about 100 million people in our country. So in the sense that stem cell research will help with that, a person would have to say it is a no-brainer that it should continue to be researched. Then there is the radical person that argues that the embryo is living, and the killing of that embryo for scientific purpose is considered to be abortion. Abortion in this country is legal, whether people like that or not. But I wouldn’t even go that far, because an embryo is a mass of cells with no neurons, no organization, no organs, and is not able to feel any pain. So an embryo is not a baby, nor a fetus, for that matter.
Others that are against the science of stem cell research argue that with the advancement of the research could allow for humans cloning in the future. Cloning is making a replica of something. Even though cloning is a scary word, it is a largely accepted practice in medicine. It is necessary that people are specific when talking about cloning to ease confusion. In medicine today, there is cloning all of the time. In fact, scientists clone viruses that are used to create medicine for us to stay healthy. DNA, as well as various other cells, are cloned as well for the treatment of certain types of cancer. As many are aware of, there have been various animals cloned throughout the past years. But through research I have found that even though human cloning could be possible, it is not accepted in science. Scientists, in fact, are not even sure the animals that were made from cloning are normal, making human cloning much too risky to carry out.
The funding of stem cell research has proven to be quite tricky. From a government standpoint, they are often trying to keep multiple sides of the issue happy. People who want the science of stem cell research outlawed argue that it is in many ways the same thing as a abortion. Well, abortion is legal in this country, while not having near the medical value that stem cell research has. In fact, embryos are being destroyed everyday for various medical reasons, so I think the sensible thing to do with them is at least allow them to be used if making a positive contribution to research. Government funding for stem cell research has also been lackluster, at least up until the current Obama administration. The excuse for limited funding was that government didn’t want to fund something that they didn’t know that much about. The problem with that is that without preliminary funding for stem cell research projects, that science will not advance as fast as it potentially could. That would ultimately lead to cures for a disease taking 50 years to find, instead of 25 years.
It is a case of weighing out the potential benefits versus the risks. Knowing that stem cell research has the potential to cure a slew of degenerative diseases, it is foolish not to keep pressing the envelope with this research. Whether people believe it is murder, it could lead to human clones taking over our world, or it is not worth any type of funding, it must be known that stem cell research will change the medical world drastically. I declare that the benefits of stem cell research in any form prevail over the moral costs because of the countless benefits it can bring to the medical community. “The bottom line is that embryonic stem cell research is good science. It is necessary science, and it needs to be part of America’s federally funded biomedical research enterprise if America is to retain its status as a global scientific leader.”(Peroski 3)

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