The Case for Stem Cell Research MAG

February 8, 2010
By laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
12 articles 11 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not a job, something you do. It’s something you are, something you can’t not be. Being a writer is … about being so bewitched by language that writing seems real, and life by comparison feels like a dream." ~ Adair Lara


A century from now, I envision a world where patients with diabetes could lead healthy lives, where people with severe spinal cord injuries could learn to walk again, where children born with leukemia could be cured. This is a world where embryonic stem cell research has been funded and supported by the government to create effective treatments for a myriad of diseases. This is a world where the possibilities of science have expanded beyond our imagination, where innovative research has evolved into life-saving treatments.

Embryonic stem cells could unlock therapies and treatments for countless ailments. Unlike adult stem cells, which have limited plasticity and less differentiation capabilities, embryonic cells are pluripotent – they have the potential to become almost any type of cell. The therapeutic applications of stem cells are nearly limitless. If scientists and doctors could harness the capabilities of embryonic stem cells, they could replace damaged brain ­tissue with healthy neural cells in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients; they could remove a tumor in the liver and supplement the organ with new, functioning liver tissue; they could create skin to transplant onto victims with serious burns without major risk of rejection or disease transmission.

However, progress in embryonic stem cell research has been delayed. Controversy over the use of embryos has fueled endless debates, creating a barrier to research. Many pro-life organizations vehemently oppose the destruction of blastocysts. Because a blastocyst is created from a fertilized egg and has the potential to become a human, they argue that embryonic stem cell research is essentially the taking of a life and thus devalues human life.

Herein lies the distinction: a blastocyst has the potential to become a human, but it is not yet a human. A blastocyst is an undifferentiated cell cluster with no heartbeat, no brain, and no consciousness. Embryonic stem cell research does not devalue human life; rather, it aims to protect human life by providing revolutionary treatments for deadly medical conditions.

I believe it is wrong to value the potential life of a cell cluster manufactured in a laboratory over the lives of the millions of people suffering from currently incurable diseases, as well as future victims whose afflictions could be alleviated by a present-day commitment to embryonic stem cell research.

Therefore, it is my opinion that research delays and funding restrictions for potentially life-saving cures should not continue. The twenty-second-century world I envision – a world of innovative treatments and life-saving cures – cannot become reality unless the twenty-first century makes embryonic stem cell research a priority.



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This article has 13 comments.


MaxineA BRONZE said...
on Nov. 19 2013 at 9:43 pm
MaxineA BRONZE, Orange Park, Florida
2 articles 1 photo 18 comments
May I ask you, Laurenz, when you believe a human to be a human? (I'm not full grown yet, am I still only a potential human being?) ;) As for respecting the unborn, it's listed in the Constitution. The rights were established for us and our "posterity".  

Kyle Deitt said...
on Dec. 20 2011 at 9:32 am
Kyle Deitt, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
Most of the embryos used for stem cell research are embryos that are going to be dicarded or simply thrown away. Also, just because they are being experimented on doesn't necessarily mean that the embryos are being destroyed. Stem cell research in the future can save people's lives, so why not give it a chance?

ambnyc SILVER said...
on Aug. 25 2011 at 8:07 pm
ambnyc SILVER, Rego Park, New York
6 articles 0 photos 133 comments

Favorite Quote:
You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. - Dr. Seuss

I agree with this.

I am also pro-choice. ;)


laurenz GOLD said...
on Mar. 23 2011 at 1:41 am
laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
12 articles 11 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not a job, something you do. It’s something you are, something you can’t not be. Being a writer is … about being so bewitched by language that writing seems real, and life by comparison feels like a dream." ~ Adair Lara

Hi Olivia.  It's true that embryos could become an actual, living, breathing human being.  These embryos could also become tissue that could save a life.  It all depends on what a scientist chooses to do with the embryo he or she has created.  You mention taking life away from an embryo which can't even defend itself.  Indeed it cannot, for it is inanimate and not a valid life.  As you point out, life is precious, which is why I am so committed to the idea that stem cell research needs to be funded and pursued so that currently-existing human lives can be drastically extended.

laurenz GOLD said...
on Mar. 22 2011 at 11:26 pm
laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
12 articles 11 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not a job, something you do. It’s something you are, something you can’t not be. Being a writer is … about being so bewitched by language that writing seems real, and life by comparison feels like a dream." ~ Adair Lara

It's true that embryos do not just magically turn into lumps of tissue.  However, given that the embryos I am discussing are not aborted embryos from a mother's womb but rather constructed in a laboratory, these embryos will not magically turn into babies either.  This clump of cells created by scientists could become either a baby or a myriad of types of tissue, depending on what conditions the scientist chooses to place it in.

Embryonic stem cell research has not been pursued to the degree that we can say it has already "cured" any diseases.  That is because, as I regretfully report in my essay, so much political/"moral" backlash has been blocking the development of this critical science.  Right now we understand enough about stem cells to know they are pluripotent and that we can use this limitless differentiation capacities to create many different types of tissue that are much less likely to be rejected than tissue made from the adult stem cells you mentioned, which are already differentiated.  While they have shown some possibilities, it is universally recognized that embryonic stem cells would have much more potential to cure diseases because of their unique pluripotency.  And ultimately, they are not morally different to use than adult stem cells - both manufacted cell clusters - except for the ultimately irrelevant truth that an embryonic cell cluster could, if placed in a different environment, become an infant instead.


on Mar. 22 2011 at 5:27 pm
shimmering_stars GOLD, Fowler, Michigan
10 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Alright... this is an interesting conversation. But a lot of these arguments don't make since.

Embryos don't just magically turn into lumps of tissue. Last time I checked, if they weren't aborted, they were born. As babies.

And what are some of the illnesses that embryonic stem cell research has cured? Most of the time, it can actually cause negative reactions because the stem cells aren't far enough developed. Adult stem cell research, on the other hand, shows more potential, and I fully support it.


laurenz GOLD said...
on Mar. 22 2011 at 4:12 pm
laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
12 articles 11 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not a job, something you do. It’s something you are, something you can’t not be. Being a writer is … about being so bewitched by language that writing seems real, and life by comparison feels like a dream." ~ Adair Lara

Actually that is one of my all-time favorite books! :)  But I appreciate the suggestion!

laurenz GOLD said...
on Mar. 22 2011 at 4:10 pm
laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
12 articles 11 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not a job, something you do. It’s something you are, something you can’t not be. Being a writer is … about being so bewitched by language that writing seems real, and life by comparison feels like a dream." ~ Adair Lara

"Not potential humans, but humans with potential" ... I must admit that's catchy. ;)  I wholeheartedly agree with half of that statement.  That is, I acknowledge and in fact celebrate the potential of embryos - but I disagree that they are humans.  An embryo has just as much potential to become a human as it does to become organ tissue.  While I appreciate your assertion that "we must respect the unborn," I can't help but ask - why?  I personally respect a full-grown human being with thoughts and feelings who is suffering from crippling burns or Parkinson's disease much more than I respect an undifferentiated cell cluster conceived in a laboratory.  To consider these equal seems, in my opinion, to be fundamentally illogical.

laurenz GOLD said...
on Mar. 22 2011 at 4:06 pm
laurenz GOLD, Phoenix, Arizona
12 articles 11 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not a job, something you do. It’s something you are, something you can’t not be. Being a writer is … about being so bewitched by language that writing seems real, and life by comparison feels like a dream." ~ Adair Lara

Hi Olivia.  While I respect your opinion, the point I strive to make in this article is that embryos conceived in a laboratory are not, in fact, "life."  Not only do they not have a heartbeat, they have no consciousness whatsoever; they are merely small undifferentiated clusters of cells.  They could become a human being, but they could just as easily become organ tissue.  Certainly "life is precious" as you say, but this is not inherently life; moreover, hundreds of embryos spontaneously abort every day, and there are thousands more to take their place, so they are not rare commodities.  Furthermore, I am speaking only about embryos created in a lab, not embryos taken from a woman's uterus.  You point out that embryos cannot defend themselves; indeed they can't, because all inanimate objects can't.  Embryos do not contain inherent value in their current state.   What is valuable about an embryo is its potential - its potential for life, in some cases, but also its potential for research.  I do appreciate your opinion and your feedback and I would love to hear your response to these counterarguments.

on Dec. 17 2010 at 7:50 pm
shimmering_stars GOLD, Fowler, Michigan
10 articles 0 photos 14 comments
I would like to point out that embryos are not potential humans, but humans with potential. We have no right to take away their future. While it is important to save those here on earth, we must respect the unborn. One life is not more important than the other.

Olivia7 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 7 2010 at 5:01 pm
Olivia7 BRONZE, Cavecreek, Arizona
3 articles 0 photos 9 comments
Although I realize that stem-cell research could cure numerous diseases and save many lives, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's right. Sure they don't have a heartbeat, but they could possibly become an actual living, breathing human being. How could you take that away from one who can't even defend themselves? Life is precious and should not be interfered with.

lnvo97 GOLD said...
on Dec. 5 2010 at 4:17 pm
lnvo97 GOLD, Chicago, Illinois
15 articles 0 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Matthew 5:44

this is really good!!! this reminds me a bit of the book My Sister's Keeper, if you havent read it yet i suggest you do because it has a bit to do with what you're writing here....

on Feb. 15 2010 at 4:42 pm
ashythechoirnerd BRONZE, Winchester, California
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
This was very well written. Keep up the good work.


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