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Stem Cell, Health Care Ethics Class

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Stem cells are cells that can form into any type of cell, they are found in bone marrow, embryos, fetuses, and blood from the umbilical cord. Early in development, a human embryo is made up of a hollow ball of cells called a "blastocyst". Blastocyst cells divide and eventually develop into all of the tissues and organs of a human being, a process called "differentiation". Embryonic stem cells can be grown in the laboratory from blastocysts and made to differentiate into nerve, liver, muscle, blood, and other cells. Scientists hope to control the differentiation of the cells to replace cells in diseased organs in human beings. Embryonic stem cells can also be used to test the effects of new drugs without harming animals or people.

In adult human beings, stem cells are found in many places in the body, including the skin, liver, bone marrow, and muscles. In the organs, stem cells remain inactive until they are needed. The stem cells supply each organ with cells needed to replace damaged or dead cells. Bone marrow stem cells divide to produce more stem cells, additional cells called "precursor cells", and all of the different cells that make up the blood and immune system. Precursor cells have the ability to form many different types of cells, but they cannot produce more stem cells. Scientists can isolate bone marrow stem cells to use as donor cells in transplants. Adult stem cells, however, are rare and more difficult to detect and isolate. The discovery and isolation of embryonic stem cells has led to debate over whether it is right to use cells taken from human embryos for research. People have expressed concern about using human embryos and collecting some of their cells.

Some people consider embryos already to be human beings. The embryos are destroyed in the process of isolating the stem cells. Once removed from an embryo, stem cells alone cannot form another embryo or develop into a human being. Many people consider it wrong to destroy human embryos, but other people believe that the potential medical benefits of stem cells justify their use. Scientists have found that stem cells can grow into 210 types of cells in the human body. Scientists believe that these cells can be used to cure many diseases that they have tried to find a cure for. Such as Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Parkinson's and even AIDS. There are so many things that stem cells can do but scientists are limited to their research. There are many people who are opposed to testing of stem cells because of where many of them are obtained. The best type of stem cell comes from an embryo in its early stages these cells can form into any types of cell.

In order for you to understand the purpose of stem cell research you must look at it with an open mind with out letting your morals compromise what you are reading. Newly formed embryos are microscopic groupings of different cells. Scientists believe that the introduction of healthy cells into a sick patient will restore the lost function of the affected part. "Every day, nearly 3000 people die while waiting for an organ transplant" (D'Agnese) and there are more than 66,000 people on an organ donor list. Studies on stem cell research hold an answer for these many people trying to hold onto life. As of 2001 scientist could develop stem cells into more than 110 different types of tissues, such as blood, brain or heart tissue (Robinson).

Now begins the dilemma, if these cells can be so useful why are they not being used? Research on stem cells are still ongoing the first stem cell was discovered in 1998, though many advances have been made since then this is still a relatively new topic of scientists. On November 5, 2001 a company called Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) was the first to actually clone an embryo with the hope of obtaining stem cells without destroying more embryos. With this experiment scientists tried to use new eggs which had their nuclei removed, rather than making a copy of the cell. These cells developed from one to eight cells but no stem cells were produced. This might seem like a failure but it shows there is hope that it could be done. There are many reasons to help prove the fact that the use of stem cells does not equal the destruction of a life. Supporters if stem cell research believe that embryos composed of only a few cells that are being stored in a lab are not alive, because they are frozen. They may have once had the potential to live, and though this potential was lost, it is not because of stem cell research. Many of the cells that are being used come from ended pregnancies when life would not develop anyway. If an embryo were to go unused, why not use it instead to save another life? There are actually 110,000 embryos being stored in the United States alone, with no life insight for them (Robinson). These embryos should be used to help other

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