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Stem Cell Research

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A Stem Cell is a cell that has the ability to become any type of cell in an organism. They are found in large quantities in developing embryos. They can be self-renewing, therefore they can make additional stem cells; or they can differentiate into various specific types of cells. As a result of these useful characteristics, stem cells come under close scientific scrutiny. They present new opportunities to develop new therapies, to treat diseases where the functions of repair, replacement and regeneration are impeded. There are two types of stem cells: Embryonic stem cells, which can be taken from embryos 4-5 days after fertilisation. They are pluripotent, in that they are able to specialize into different types of cells. ...read more.


Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are caused by problems that occur in cell development. A better understanding of normal cell development will allow us to understand and perhaps correct the errors that cause these conditions. Research on embryonic stem cells has generated much interest and public debate. Pluripotent stem cells are isolated from human embryos that are a few days old; they have also been developed from foetal tissue, tissue older than 8 weeks. The end that scientists hope to achieve is the relief of human suffering. The controversy is about means, that is the destruction of a human embryo. The argument is that an embryo is a still a person, albeit an undeveloped one. ...read more.


Political Implications: Much of the debate over stem cells involves whether to allow scientists to extract stem cells from surplus embryos, left over from in-vitro fertilisation procedures. Extracting the stem cells kills the embryo; but a more important consideration is whether to allow funding of projects that use currently available stem cells that have been previously removed from embryos in the past. In 2000, George Bush declared his opposition to federal or taxpayer funding for stem cell research. In 2001, he released federal funding for research on existing stem cell lines; but said that no additional embryos were to be destroyed for their stem cells. The British Government has approved stem cell research. Because of this their have been instances of American companies moving to the UK to continue their work. Their stem cell research will not stop, it will merely be relocated. ...read more.

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