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Stem Cell Research Paper

1392 words - 6 pages

Jean-Marie Lux
Biology 121
Stem Cell Research Paper
September 12, 2012 Stem cell research is a relatively new field and has made huge advances in the past fifty years. The idea of stem cells was first made public by a Russian-American Scientist named Alexander Maksimov in 1908. However it was not until 1963 that two Canadian Scientists were able to actually demonstrate the existence of self-renewing cells found in the bone marrow of mice. The Scientists were James E. Till and Ernest A. McCulloch. So although Maksimov was the first person who put the idea of stem cells out there, it is really Till and McCulloch who are credited with proving that stems cells actually existed. Since ...view middle of the document...

There are five main classifications of stem cells and there are five different groups. The five classifications are Totipotent, Multipotent, Pluripotent, Oligopotent and Unipotent. Totipotent means it has the potential to become all other types of cells in the body, for example, a fertilized egg. Multipotent cells, however can only produce certain types of cells. Pluripotent cells produce any type of cell in the body except those needed to develop a fetus. Oligopotent cells are limited to becoming specific cell types, such as endoderm, ectoderm, and mesoderm. Unipotent stem cells can only produce cells of their own type, for example skin cells. They can renew themselves, which distinguishes them from non-stem cells. Obviously, Totipotent stem cells would be considered by most Scientists as the most useful or most important of the five types because they are the most versatile. However, the other types are good for use in specific types of situations that call for a very specific type of research. For example, Pluripotent cells are extremely useful for medical research and far less controversial.
The five different groups of stem cells are early embryonic, blastocyst embryonic, fetal, umbilical and adult. Adult stem cells are often misconstrued as stem cells only coming from adults, however these cells may be derived from fetuses, newborns, and children. Which is why recently they are being referred to as Somatic stem cells, meaning stem cells that come from relatively mature tissue. Adult, or Somatic stem cells are always classified as multipotent, oligopotent, or unipotent. Four of the five groups of stem cells are what cause the majority of debate when it comes to stem cell research. Other then adult stem cells, the other four groups involve either an embryo, or a fetus.

Many believe that embryonic stem cell research is unethical and wrong because they see the embryo as a baby, as a life and they feel it is wrong to use the cells as research because in essence you are killing a person. The opposition feel that the embryo or fetus is not a human life until it is born and takes it’s first breath. Therefore, the research should continue. Embryonic, blastocyst and fetal stem cell research could save millions of lives. This vital research can potentially help treat and possibly cure many diseases such as, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Heart Disease, Strokes, Diabetes and many more. Although both sides agree to the benefits of stem cell research, they continue to argue over the methods and how the information will be used. Many advances have been made in the way that stem cell research can be conducted. Instead of Embryonic stem cell research, many believe the answer lies with adult stem cell research which is the research done on stem cells harvested from adult bone marrow. This has been the basis of bone marrow transplants for the past several decades. Adult stem cells are found through out the body...

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