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Stem Cell Research: What Is It? A Paper For A Communication And Gender Class, Overview Of Topic And Ethical Concerns

1448 words - 6 pages

With all the media coverage on stem cell research during the past election, one would think that the general public had all of the information on stem cell research. This is not the case, however. Most people believe that stem cells are cells that must be extracted from a human embryo in order to do any good in the medical community, which is only partly true. Based solely on this information, armed with religious and ethical arguments, many people have dismissed the possibility of the use of stem cells without ever looking into the facts and fallacies presented to them by the media.So what is a stem cell? In the human body, there are 220 various kinds of cells. When a human embryo is ...view middle of the document...

Embryonic stem cell research is permitted in many countries including England, Japan, France, and Australia. This type of research is permitted on a limited basis in some private and government labs in the US, however, no new lines of stem cells may be created in the US as per President George W. Bush, due to ethical concerns. According to his law, researchers were to use only 72 lines of existing stem cells and not create any new lines, thus eliminating the possibility of "abortion" type harvesting of human embryonic stem cells. Cloning cells in order to harvest the stem cells is also banned at this time. Unfortunately, most of these existing lines became useless and today there are only about eleven remaining of the original 72.There are many disadvantages and drawbacks to using embryonic stem cells in research and subsequent therapies. For one thing, embryonic stem cells are highly unstable, can be hard to grow in a predictable way, often develop with cancerous cells and cause cancerous growths in humans being treated, and cause immune system reactions in many patients. The last could be corrected by giving the patient an immune system represent, but this carries risks all on its own. Also, in order to make use of embryonic stem cell therapies, there would have to be many different samples to match all possible patients to avoid rejection issues.Embryonic stem cells are not the only kind of stem cells with a promising future in the medical community. In addition to human embryos, stem cells can be extracted from the human placenta, the human umbilical cord, from young children, and even from adults. Extracting stem cells from placenta and umbilical cords is not as promising because these cells are only available in limited amounts. However, there have been many cord-blood banks established to store a child's umbilical cord in case stem cells are ever needed for that child. These cords are kept specifically for that child or an immediate family member and are not a practical alternative to embryonic stem cells.Adult stem cells, however, are quickly replacing embryonic stem cell research in the scientific community. Until recently, researchers believed that adult stem cells were not capable of producing the results found with embryonic stem cells. In many cases, research is now proving otherwise. Adult (and child) stem cells appear to have the capacity to achieve all that only embryonic stem cells were thought to be able. With further research, the medical and scientific communities may well abandon the use of embryonic stem cell research altogether in favor of adult stem cell research. This would eliminate any ethical concern and greatly benefit massive numbers of people world wide.One may ask at this point: What can stem cells be used for? Stem cells have been called the greatest medical miracle since the advent of penicillin. Researches have seen positive results in clinical tests and believe that stem cells would be highly effective in...

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