Molecular Biology

Arguments for and against Stem Cell Research



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Since World War II, the government has spent billions of dollars for the research and development of various methods designed to cause destruction, injuries and death, but will not fund projects that could save lives or drastically improve them. There is no moral issue about spending money on weapons of mass destruction but there is a huge moral issue to fund research for the harvesting of human stem cells, or stem cell research. Stem cells are " master cells in the body that can grow into any cell type or tissue". Stem-Cell research should be permitted because these cells can be genetically altered to fight cancer and other various diseases and can be altered to make other cells that are specialized.
"In a developing embryo, stem cells are able to differentiate into all of the specialized embryonic tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells." These cells can de used in various ways. They can be used to grow various specialized cells and can be altered to be cancer fighters. Stem cell research is a very moral issue because you harvest them from aborted fetuses. Other ways of harvesting stem cells are not as ethically debatable because they can be taken from the umbilical cord or even the embryonic fluid, or from the mothers amniotic fluid.
Scientists at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda have found a new way to fight melanoma by "inserting a gene in a normal immune cells (stem cells) isolated from the melanoma patient." this is one of the first new breakthroughs in gene therapy to help fight cancer. In this process called adoptive cell transfer scientists take the patient's most aggressive "tumor killing" t-cells, multiply them in a lab by making gene copies and implanting them into stem cells. Scientists then kill the patients remaining t-cells and replace them with the new noncancerous ones. If this process works properly the new t-cells will destroy the cancer. They also worked with a process where instead of replacing t-cells they would create a protein with the stem cells, MART-1, that creates t-cells. This National Cancer Institute worked with 17 people with un controllable melanoma. 2 of the patients cancers were completely eliminated and at least 10% of the t-cells continued to fight the cancer in the other patient. Stephen .A Rosenberg explains that " Abortive cell transfer isn't a viable treatment for the majority of the people yet." This new research still lacks the funding and tests needed to cure cancer, but this is a major advancement which gives scientists hope for a cure for cancer.
Richard Benson of virgin Enterprise is Adding a stem cell storage to his company. Parents will be able to take stem cells from the umbilical cord in hope that if they have a disease they may be able to be cured it in the future. This offers an "insurance policy" to parents in case the technology to cure diseases with stem cell is created. " there is huge potential to be gained from the collection and storage of cord stem cells" says Richard Branson. The cost for storage of stem cells is about $3,000, but this could be well worth it if one day these cells could cure diseases. " Regenerative medicine holds great promise for future management of many diseases and cord blood stem cells might fulfill that promise if they can be expanded and grow successfully in large numbers" says Professor Peter Braude, chairman of the group's scientific advisory committee.
Stem cell research should be permitted. Its potential life saving and life improving possibilities are infinite. Some believe stem cell research is immoral regardless of its lifesaving possibilities but really, it is immoral to ignore such a promising field of medicine.

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