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Stem Cell Research

Essay by   •  August 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  714 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,460 Views

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Stem cells are undifferentiated cells in the human body, which leads to the possibility of being able to be manipulated into any type of cell. They are taken from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst which is a fertilized egg four days after conception. They sometimes are also either discarded embryos that were stored at an in-vitro fertilization clinic, or can even be pulled from an aborted fetus, with the signed consent of the patient. There are also other, less harmful ways which I will discuss later. Stem cell research has been used to treat anyone from burn victims to also patients with Leukemia. Due to the fact that the cells can be manipulated, we can then inject them into a diseased person's body for treatment by replacing the damaged cells.

Some argue that stem cell research is unethical and, like abortion, is killing a human being. However, in my opinion, I think that with how much the use of stem cells and the research to find new cures far outweighs the bad, and could possibly wind up saving many lives, like it already has. There are also alternative uses of stem cells other than embryonic. The first option is using adult stem cells. There is a small population of cells in numerous organs and tissues in the human body that are able to self-renew themselves. They can be found in the skin, muscle, bone marrow, liver, brain, and the eye, and can be used to treat skin burns as well as blood diseases, including blood cancer. However, one of the difficulties using adult stem cells is that other than bone marrow and skin, they tend to be difficult to work with. Another way to retain stem cells without hurting the embryos, which is a main reason why people are against stem cell research, is known as Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT). In this process they basically clone the embryo. They take the nucleus from a donor cell and place it into a receiver egg that does not have a nucleus. This procedure prevents the embryo from growing, but keeps its alive long enough to extract the stem cell.

One of the newer uses of stem cell research is known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These stem cells are any cell that has been genetically "reprogrammed" to imitate the behavior of embryonic stem cells, and could possibly be used to restore different kinds of cardiovascular cells. According to Dr. Martin Pera, doctors can use iPS to replace what is missing by growing cardiac muscle cells and blood vessels. Unlike embryonic stem cells, they are not taken from human embryos, however, they still can be used to regrow specific tissues in the cardiovascular system after an unfavorable medical event. As an example, when someone has a heart attack, they are unable to regrow their dead heart muscles. However, using iPS, we can replace what is now absent by growing cardiac muscle cells, as well as blood vessel cells. The benefit of using iPS, not only that it is not taken from human embryos, but that the adult

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