Stem Cell Research

February 20, 2008
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The twenty first century dawns a new frontier in the realm of biology. This drastic and far reaching revolution started in 1953 with the discovery of the double helix and has led scientists to marvelous discoveries about the function of the human body and life in general. We now stand at a crossroads where we can move on to improve the quality of living for all humanity through finding solutions previously thought inconceivable, or we could check our progress for the sake of misinformed, narrow-minded fanatics. Stem cell research for the sole use of therapeutic cloning should receive increased federal spending and should not face restrictions of any kind passed by the government.

The main benefit of therapeutic cloning comes from the possibility of creation of human tissue or organs achieved through the process of somatic cell nuclear transfer. According to The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the following procedure takes place: DNA from an adult cell (cheek cell, skin cell) of the patient is placed into an empty donor ovum (egg) which has had its own DNA removed. The ovum is then shocked to promote growth and the resulting stem cells are harvested. The stem cells can then be encouraged to grow into any kind of unique tissue or organ. Completion of the process of promoting stem cells into specialized ones has occurred for most of the two hundred and twenty cell types of our body, but we have yet to perfect this method into maturation and successful transplantation. Subsequently, with further research, organs made with an exact DNA match can be placed in patients with a need for them. Mainly, this would save on average, the sixteen people on the waiting list that die each day without organs (DCI Donor Services). Additionally, this process completely eliminates the chance of rejection and consequent death from organ failure. Perfecting this method through additional research could save countless lives and increase the average life expectancy greatly.

Another benefit of stem cell research comprises of a possible cure for diseases such as Type I Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or spinal cord injuries. Caused by the destruction of insulin producing cells, Type I Diabetes remains to have hopeful prospects in finding a cure. Dr. Sidhu from the Prince of Whales Hospital states these insulin producing cells are derived from a layer of stem cells, and stem cell research can offer a permanent solution by producing pure populations of those cells and transplanting them into patients. Creation of these cells would occur by the somatic cell nuclear transfer, in a somewhat similar procedure as creating new tissue or organs. Furthermore, possible treatments by this method of specialized cell growth include a cure for a multitude of other conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Imagine a loved one being afflicted with one of these debilitating diseases. Treatments derived from these techniques could save their life. A process of extensive and unrestrictive research needs to occur in order to form and implement these cures.


A third benefit that will result from stem cell research includes an enhanced understanding of non-genetic birth defects and the formation of cancers. By using these stem cells, scientists can learn how these maladies form and the biological pathways they take, according Gabriela Cezar who works at the Scotland Roslin Institute (birth place of Dolly the sheep). She states that this process involves generating a panel of molecular markers coming from stem cells during the formation of these problems. This further understanding will play a major role in the development of successful treatments. In addition, this work can also help effectively predict the effects of drugs and other chemicals from treatment of these ailments according to Cezar's Assistant, Jessica Quam.

Many argue stem cell research posses unethical qualities because of the destruction of the embryo in order to harvest the stem cells. In reality, these cells do not hold life itself, but a possibility of life such as the countless sperm produced in a male or eggs produced in a female. They have the capacity to grow into a multitude of living matter provided the right environment. Because they possess the mere capacity to create human progeny does not mean they have or need to. Moreover, the cell matter at the time of harvest should be regarded as any other cell in the human body such as a skin or cheek cell as they do not retain any more characteristics of life than these other cells do. Rational thinking concludes the destruction of life does not occur but a creation of a new form of life such as an organ or other specialized cell.

In order to advance the revolution that has shaken the scientific world to its core, stem cell research needs relentless study with no restrictions. Along the way, miraculous cures will surface for diseases and problems that will ultimately only raise our standard of living by many folds and help loved ones get well. Is it not a cause worth fighting for? Social responsibility states a person should be proactive in the role of the betterment of humanity. For this to happen, please oppose any candidates running for office in favor of stem cell research bans or restrictions and support those in favor of promoting research and increasing government research grants.





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