Stem Cell Research Controversy: An Argumentative Essay

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Stem Cell Research Controversy: An Argumentative Essay

Stem Cell Research Controversy: An Argumentative Essay


Few topics in science and religion have been as hotly contested in recent years as stem cell research, largely because it involves the fate of, disposition of, and research on the human embryo. There are two basic types of stem cell research—that involving adult cells (AS cells) and that involving human embryonic cells (ESCs or hES cells); only the latter is a source of controversy. In both cases, research is still at the early stages regarding the programming and uses of these cells, and there is comparatively little data about the efficacy of AS and hES cells for human therapies. That is why most scientists agree that (Bjornson, 1999), in the United States, government funding should be widely available for research on both types of stem cells, an issue that has been contested in the U.S. Congress.


Stem cells are unspecialized and so are able to renew indefinitely; they also have the capacity to differentiate into specialized cells. In humans, these cells are found in some adult organs, in blood, and in bone marrow; in the inner cell mass of the human embryo at the blastocyst stage (five to six days after fertilization); on the gonadal ridge of aborted or miscarried fetuses; and in the placenta and umbilical cord (hematopoetic stem cells) (Bjornson, 1999).

Because stem cells have the capacity to regenerate, particularly ESCs, they have ushered in the era of "regenerative medicine," signaling that, in theory, these cells can be used to regenerate human tissues and cells, and ultimately increase quality of life and the human life span. Embryonic stem cells are the progenitor cells for the human body and at their earliest stage (the blastocyst stage) they are completely undifferentiated and can give rise to any cell type in the human body (totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent are all terms that have been used to describe this phenomenon). At this stage the cells have not yet received their "marching orders" for what they will become; therefore, scientists have been experimenting with controlling the programming of ESCs in culture in order to direct their ends (controlled differentiation) to specialized cells such as blood, skin, and nerve cells (Green, 2001).

The advancement in technology has lead to the treatment of many diseases. Stem cell research has provided hope and has brought optimism among the scientists and doctors in curing the patients who suffered or died due to the once called "untreatable" diseases decades ago. Stem cells are the ones which can develop into any type of a body cell including the cells of blood, liver, brain, muscles, and many more. They are found in adult bone marrow, embryos, fetuses, and blood from the umbilical cord (Green, 2001). Stem cell research is the latest advancement in biotechnology which shows how an organism develops from a single cell and how healthy cells replace damaged cells in adult organisms. This technique has lead scientists to research about the possibility of cell-based therapies to treat disease, ...
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