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Stem Cell Research

Essay by   •  November 13, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  3,889 Words (16 Pages)  •  1,693 Views

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Stem Cell Research

In modern medicine today there are remedies for many diseases and sicknesses. For those unfortunate few with rare diseases, cancer, or a genetic mutation, we don't have a resolution or cure. The race to find these cures is going on right now. Many think the solution can be found in the tiny embryonic stem cells. Most of the people who believe that the embryonic stem cell is the solution also believe that the federal government should help fund the research. The use of embryonic stem cells is not the only "solution to be" for these rare cases. Adult stem cell research is another means of finding the solution to the rare diseases, cancers, and other such sicknesses. Adult stem cell research is the most moral and effective treatment for the rare diseases and sicknesses.

Adult stem cell research has been proven to be the superior form of stem cell research at this time. Adult stem cells have provided 56 treatments to various sicknesses from brain cancer, to Hodgkin's Lymphoma, to Sickle Cell Anemia, to spinal cord injuries (Do No Harm). These 56 treatments compare to the zero that embryonic stem cell research has so far provided. It is apparent just from that fact alone that adult stem cells are not second best. Dr. Carlos Lima in Portugal, has helped several paralyzed patients to restore bladder and muscle control using stem cells from their own nasal tissue. One of Dr. Lima's patients appeared before a Senate subcommittee and presented videos of herself walking with braces (Biotechnology and Bioethics).

Embryonic stem cell research is the study of a tiny cell, taken from an embryo, which during the development of the embryo grows into many different organ or tissue cells. These cells can be cultured and grown into almost any organ or tissue cells to repair or replace damaged cells (Eapejo 53). The only high point that embryonic stem cells have is that they could potentially be used for anything because of this unique ability to be grown into any type of cell. But embryonic stem cells also run the risk of tissue rejection and tumors. This is one of the reasons a human trial has yet to be done (Tada). Embryonic research is not complete but isn't near ready for a human trial. Embryonic research is showing no signs that the cures are around the corner either (Center for Bioethics and Culture). Many people who support embryonic research don't see this though. Some of the supporters were Christopher Reeves and Ronald Reagan's wife and son, Ronnie. They felt that embryonic research was the key to finding the cure for Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, and Multiple Sclerosis. Unfortunately for Christopher Reeves and Ronald Reagan, a cure was not found in time. Their families argue that political issues withheld the cures for their diseases. When you look at their cases though, they were too far along in their sickness to be able to take advantage of the treatments that we have found and used. Adult stem cell research has had success in finding a cure for Parkinson's and MS. The best story is of a MS patient, in advanced stages, who with the use of his own adult stem cells is now almost in total remission (Biotechnology and Bioethics).

Aside from just not having proven to be an effective means of curing sicknesses, embryonic stem cells are obtained from in vitro fertilized embryos as well as aborted embryos. The problem with in vitro fertilized embryos is the researchers have a tendencies to make too many of them, in mass amounts. Their resolution to this is to freeze the embryos, to slow the death process. So, essentially, these researchers create the living embryo, study it, freeze it, pull some cells from it, then let it die (Center for Bioethics and Culture).

Stem cell research comes down to a moral issue. It comes down to whether you believe the killing of an unborn baby is wrong and if you believe the cloning of human beings is wrong. Joni Tada, a quadriplegic who would benefit greatly from a breakthrough in spinal cord injury research - a potential cure of stem cell research - said, during an interview with Larry King, "If we violate a human embryo today, tomorrow we will become callous about the fetus, then the infant, and then people with physical defects. We want to influence society with reasoned judgment, strength of character, and a commitment to improve our culture, not diminish it."

Another issue surrounding stem cell research is whether or not the government should fund the research of these cells. Many would love to blame President Bush's "stem cell ban" for the lack of cures for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, even though they are at our fingertips (Kass). If these people were to do their research though, they would see that Bush passed the first federally funded project using stem cells back in 2002 (Manier). Not only would they see this but they would also find out that from 2001 to 2003 the National Institutes of Health budget for stem cell research increased $25 million (Kass). The only ban on stem cell research currently is for federal funding of destructive embryo research. This ban was also passed by Clinton, not Bush, but Bush does support it saying, "I oppose using federal funds to perform fetal tissue research from induced abortions"(Mainer).

In the past elections, more breakthroughs have been made. In California Proposition 71 passed. This Proposition allowed for funding of embryonic stem cell research. This proposition was passed to help big businesses like Biotech from spending too much on their privately funded research, which is also completely legal with no bans on that. Outside of the USA, countries including Germany, France, Austria, and Ireland have also banned embryonic stem cell research. As you can see the myth about governmental banning on the research is false. At the same time though, governmental funding shouldn't be allowed simply because that would make the government part of a morally questionable practice. The funding Bush authorized was for the research on already existing stem cell lines (Mainer). No federal funds should be used to create new lines which would require killing embryos. Instead, if scientists want to do the research, they should have to fund it themselves, not with government money.

As it is evident in modern medical practices, adult stem cell research is the superior of the two type of researches. Adult stem cell research is safer and morally pleasing. I believe Bush's actions concerning stem cell research were the appropriate ones to take and I am confident that he will continue to help lead the nation down the right path concerning the research. Adult stem cell research is the solution to rare diseases and sicknesses previously unknown to man. Regardless of the government's policies,

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