Stem-Cell Research

February 14, 2008
By Natalie Miller, East Hills, NY

How many people are living with or died from sicknesses such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and muscle damage? The most common of these illnesses is cancer. The American Cancer Society estimated over 7.6 million deaths in 2007 alone. They believe there will be about 12 million new cases worldwide. There is no cure for this widely spread epidemic.

This relates exactly to stem cell research. Stem cells are found in multi-cellular organisms and have the ability to change into a range of cell types. The first findings of these cells were in the 1960’s by two Canadian scientists Ernest McCulloch and James Till. These cells are present during embryo development and can change into many different specialized cells. In adults, the stem cells can restore and revive tissue growth. Stem cells can be grown and transformed into specialized cells with characteristics consistent with cell of various tissues such as muscle or nerves through cell culture. With these cells, diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s have hope of being curable.

These stem cells are most predominant in young embryo’s about four to five days old. Fifty to 150 cells can be present. With these unique cells, hope stays alive in the hearts of the millions who suffer from terminal ailments.

After twenty years of research, there are no approved treatments or human trials using embryonic stem cells. There exists a widespread debate over human embryonic stem cell research that originates from the techniques used in the creation and usage of stem cells. Human embryonic stem cell research is controversial due to the fact that starting a stem cell line requires the destruction of a human embryo.

Our president stated "I oppose federal funding for stem cell research that involves destroying living human embryos." Like most republicans, he is pro-life. When Bush said this, his opinion was that 4 day old embryo was as much of a person as himself or anyone else in the world. Bush was not thinking about the 100 million people whose lives are taken over and ended from these diseases. These people have no place to turn. A letter to President Bush supporting stem cell research was signed by 30 House Republicans. A letter opposing research was signed by only three Senate Republicans. Britain is headed toward the right direction and has already approved stem cell research. If the research isn’t approved here, researchers will just relocate.

It’s a shame that so many people are dying, and we could find a way to save them but choose not to. Bush himself could one day die of colon cancer, and his precious daughter Jenna could die of breast cancer. Today’s technology is so advanced that cancer has been around too long for it to still be a major issue.

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