STEM CELL RESEARCH LEGISLATION |
Joshua Dye |
First you have to understand what we are dealing with and the definition of what we are speaking about. Stem cells are cells found in all multi cellular organisms. They are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiate into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Research in the stem cell field grew out of findings by Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till at the University of Toronto in the 1960s. The two broad types of mammalian stem cells are: embryonic stem cells that are isolated from the inner cell mass of blast cysts, and adult stem cells that ...view middle of the document...
There are some indications that progress is being made in developing alternatives to the use of embryos in pursuing this technology. If this happens, most political/ethical concerns regarding the matter will be resolved. The competitive aspects of this research were evidence by recent revelations that a South Korean scientist had faked research that had purported replicated individual DNA.
The stem cell controversy was an issue in the 2008 Presidential campaign in part because of the recent death of former President Ronald Reagan from Alzheimer's disease. Some of his family members have been vocal advocates of the potential of stem cell research to provide treatments for such conditions and his son spoke at the Democratic convention on the subject. Polls taken at that time indicated that the research proposals have widespread public support even among Republican voters. Voters in California went so far as to approve a ballot measure to establish a public funded stem cell research program in that state. As in past election years, the 2008 Democratic platform supports funding this research. The 2008 Republican platform continued to reflect the party's religious based opposition to embryonic stem cell research. There are indications that some European and Asian countries have the green light to actively pursue this research.
Although research is only in the early stages, there is a growing consensus among researchers that many very effective medical treatments can be realized through cloning stem cells. This is because these cells can be made to replicate specific human tissues. These cells offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissue to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There is almost no realm of medicine that might not be touched by this innovation Current research projects have obtained stem cells from tissue which has been removed during terminated pregnancies or from embryos produced by in-vitro fertilization clinics. Once isolated, the cells can be grown up in the laboratory and stored for future use. Each reservoir of cells, derived from a single embryo, is known as a cell line. A more reliable supply would be obtained by copying or cloning embryos specifically for their stem cells. Because stem cells are obtained from destroyed embryos, the concerns are similar to those surrounding abortion. Most opponents of legal abortions also oppose this research. In addition, the possibility that cell lines could be developed from cloned embryos raises ethical concerns associated with propriety of human cloning. The most prominent global opponent of this research is the Catholic Church although many individual American Catholics do not take this view. In fact the official Catholic position is also opposed to in vitro fertilization because...