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Stem Cells

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Essay title: Stem Cells

Stem cells, by definition, are undifferentiated, primitive cells with the ability to multiply and differentiate into specific kinds of cells. The research on theses particular cells has the possibility to save the lives of millions of terminally ill patients and victims of accidents that has left them with the loss of several portions of their body. These cells could not only change the medical and scientific society, but could also change the world.

Stem cells are the cells at the start of human life that eventually multiply and change into every other cell in our body. This is accomplished because the cells are predifferentiated, meaning that they have the potential to divide throughout their life without ever reaching a final stage. They are also self renewing. These cells can form multiple copies of themselves in quantities no other cell can. This allows division and self replication of themselves to be carried out indefinitely, and under the right conditions, infinitely. Stem cells are also multipotential. This is one of their most important qualities. It allows the cell to change into any form of cell it needs to by way of signals of other cells around it (Dunnet 344).

The problem with stem cell research is, that in order to retrieve the most desirable cells, a human embryo must be sacrificed. This causes a huge ethical debate between scientists and many other advocates, mainly the religious society. Religious people do not think doing research warrants the killing of an embryo. After all, this embryo is an unborn child. Many think that death of a new life is not a substantial way to save an already existing life. Religious advocates also say that since there is not a one hundred percent certainty that stem cell research will lead to ways to save human lives, that the taking of a life, in order to do research, is not worth the life that was taken (Eisenberg).

Not only is the religious society against the research, but in some countries, it is against the law. In the United States of America, on July 31, 2001, The House of Representatives voted for a ban on human cloning for reproduction. This law also included a ban on cloning for research purposes. If this law was broken, a strict penalty of a one million dollar fine and up to ten years in jail would be enforced. The United Kingdom had altered its law (Human Fertilization and Embryological Act of 1990) to allow therapeutic cloning for research, but antiabortion activists had it struck down because cloning did not involve a union between sperm and egg and therefore, could not be considered part of the act (Ezzell).

Many scientists still find loop holes in the law. They also challenge the advocates against them. Scientists argue, that since the majority of embryos that are sacrificed for their stem cells are artificially produced by means of in vitro fertilization, the religious out cries about taking the life of an unborn child have no justification. After in vitro fertilization, the unused embryos that the mother does not want are either discarded or given to science for research. Louis M. Guerin, a professor that teaches ethics at Harvard University, states that “For some embryonic stem cells, it is not only justifiable to use their cells in research, but admirable.” Other scientists say that since even a naturally conceived embryo can become twins for up to the first fourteen days of its conception, the embryo has no true identity. The debate over stem cell research will linger on for several years because of the thought that using embryos for research is murder (Neal).

Over the years, the study of stem cells has become more restricted in cell biology than it has in embryology. This has resulted from the renewing tissues in adults, where balancing one’s loss of cells and the production of new cells is the main concern. This depends highly on the mitotic activity that is produced from a population of undifferentiated cells. One of the key attributes of the activity is that the undifferentiated cells usually include cells that maintain the same position as the undifferentiated cells do. Many studies have shown good evidence that stem cells maintain interaction with the local cells around them. Studies have also shown that movement of stem cells away from their original location, causing them to come in contact with new tissues, is a direct result of a restriction of their potency. Potency is the key for stem cell to renew the cells around them. Some scientists believe the way to keep the potency at a high level may be to directly insulate stem cells from other cells. If this is true, stem cells would be able to renew cells that cancer has taken over (Dexter 21).

AML (acute myeloblastic leukemia) maintains its life by two properties of stem cells. These properties are the ability to self renew itself and the limited number of terminal divisions that occur

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