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Stem Cells: a Gift or a Curse?

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I first hear of the term “stem cells” in my freshmen biology class at my local science center. While teaching us about cells, my teacher mentioned that there has been a new source that scientist use to treat sick patients: stem cells. Although it was a brief discussion, I was amazed with fact and, like any science topics that interest me, I Googled more about stem cells. They are undifferentiated cells that have the extraordinary ability to develop into many different cell types in the body. With this property, stem cells are used for organ and tissue regeneration, brain disease treatment, cell deficiency therapy, and blood disease treatments.
My trip to Vietnam this summer has pressed upon me a greater interest in researching stem cells in college. Due to the poor living conditions, most people in the village, young and old, have contacted numerous diseases. My uncle has lung cancer, my cousin has a tumor on his spinal cord, and my aunt has a lump on her armpit (sorry for the grotesqueness!) Clueless about the origins, most villagers blame their illnesses on deathly spirits, stress, or too much work, but I believe the causes or more of overexposure to the sun, genetic mutations and as for my uncle, alcohol abuse. I believed, in the near future advancements in the research of stem cells will unlock the solution to mankind’s maladies.
However, there are ethical issues with stem cells that concern me. Embryonic stems are the most promising kind of stem cells because they can be developed into any kind of cell, yet the extraction of stem cells from the embryo means destroying it. In addition, the results of transplanting stem cells could be helpful or treacherous. Severe medical disorders, such as cancer and birth defects, are caused by abnormality that occurs in the process of stem cell division. This means transplanting stem cells could create tumors and become cancerous if cell division continues uncontrollably. Stem cell could save a life but kills another; it could cure diseases but also it could causes diseases. Its ying and yang perplexities make it something worth to research about.





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