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Stem Cell Research

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Essay title: Stem Cell Research

Position paper on Stem Cell Research

New developments in science have increased our overall quality of life. Areas such as medicine, sanitation, and technology, have all benefitted from our increased knowledge of science. Today, we are on the verge of a breakthrough that would be the biggest accomplishment in human science this century. Stem cell research, today's ever present controversial topic, has the potential to be tomorrow's miracle panacea. Stem cells are cells that, depending on the type, have the ability to mutate to any form of human cell. The applications of this seem endless. The controversy emerges from where stem cells are found, embryos. Human embryos are the most pure and potent source of stem cells that we know of today (Stem Cell Information, 2007). Unfortunately, the only way to obtain these kinds of stem cells is to harvest them from the actual embryos. This process brings an issue to human rights, religious views, and the definition of a human being. Though there are many religious groups that believe this research is wrong and inhumane, stem cell research is a vital operation. Stem cell research should be increased because of the tremendous good it can do for society, despite the arguments of religious points of view.

Aggressive religious groups claim that this research is dangerous, and enters upon Gods territory. Also they protest that since stem cells come from embryos, it is inhumane and kills humans. However, these claims are not exactly true. Though stem cell research has the potential to become something truly great, it is still experimental. Also, most of the embryos that are harvested for stem cells are ones that have already been discarded, and had no chance to become a human being. Also embryos are obtained from donation for the purpose of research.

The research done with stem cells has a two-fold goal. The first and mostly overlooked goal of the study is to find some clues on how single-cell organisms became complex multi-cellular organisms. Stem cells can offer some light on these questions because of their fast reproductive rate and their amazing transformation property (Stem Cell Information, 2007). The other side of stem cell research is in the reparative medicine field. This is an area of medicine that hardly got any attention before the potential of stem cells arrived. Reparative medicine is when parts of the body are repaired, or functions of those parts of the body are repaired, either to fix an injury or a bodily illness. Stem cells can offer us hope in this area of science. This is because one of the main characteristics of a stem cell is its ability to transform into any type of specialized cell in the human body. This means that once thought incurable or mildly controllable illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, can be repaired using stem cells.

Though these positives would seem to outweigh any downside, there are some negatives that need to be addressed. These forms of stem cells can only be harvested from embryos. Because some people consider that embryos are actually alive, they claim that stem cell research kills human beings (Munro, 2007). The validity of this is still in discussion, and will not be resolved until we decide what constitutes a living human being. Until then, and even after, people will still protest the research. The harvesting of embryonic stem cells is also a difficult process, and sometimes produces only a small amount of stem cells.

New developments in stem cell research however, will challenge these claims. One major advancement that was discovered about a year ago was that adult humans contain a certain type of stem cell, which in property is very similar to embryonic stem cells. This is an incredible discovery because it might solve some of the religious problems associated with the research. However, there are some limitations to adult stem cells. They are found in human tissue from certain organ systems. Because of this, the cells are already partially specialized, and will only form with other cells related to the tissue it was found in (Stem Cell Information, 2007). For example, in muscle tissue, muscular adult stem cells are found that can partially regenerate a torn muscle. Scientists are now trying to see if these adult stem cells can be tricked or changed into the more versatile totipotent stem cells, which are the most potent and useful type.

Another major advancement in stem cell research emerged less than a week ago, and has the potential to become the most promising news for the field in a long time. It also has the greatest potential to compete against the moral dilemmas of the research. Scientists have now found a way to turn human skin cells into stem cells (Stem Cell Information, 2007). This process is similar to that of using other human tissue to make stem cells for that organ system. However, skin cells are unique

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