Stem Cells

Versatile stem cells are biology’s answers to practically any medical complication.  Blessed with the ability to become any tissue of the body, they have the potential to replace a failing heart, control the tremors of Parkinson’s disease, cure diabetes, or treat many other illnesses.  There is one enormous drawback that has caused questions into its ethicality.  To obtain stem cells, one would have to strip them from a human embryo, destroying it in its process.  However, in order to achieve the most benefit with the least harm and destruction of things of value and protect national interests not only for now but also for the future, stem cell research must be allowed to proceed without further delay.

Microscopic ball-like cells that form after the zygote divides are known as stem cells (Dyer 14).  Stem cells have the potential of “metamorphosizing into any component of the body” may it be the heart, nerves, blood, bone, or muscle (Torr 133).  Stem cells begin as clumps of undifferentiated cells not having decided yet what they will be (135).  Once differentiated, the process may not be reversed, and must forge ahead (135).  There are two types of stem cells: embryonic and adult (Dyer 14).  Embryonic stem cells form four days after the fertilization of the sperm and egg (14).  Adult stem cells are also found throughout the body in the skin, brain, bone marrow, and blood (15).  But unlike the embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have limited potential to multiply and grow into other types of tissues.

The Bush Administration stands in the middle of all the controversy, not having stated very clearly whether it believes stem-cell research is ethical or not.  Current law forbids the use of government funds for research on human embryos or embryonic stem cells (“A Ready-Made Controversy” 10).  Furthermore, government research is limited to the 64 existing stem cell colonies (Southwick A26).  In fact, fewer than 30 are now available (D’Agnese 56).  Even if someday the president allows access to every frozen embryo out there, which is 100,000 at most, the numbers aren’t sufficient to provide a breakthrough in medical treatment (56).  As Congress debates the emotionally and politically charged issues of embryonic stem cells and cloning, science is forging ahead with extraordinary speed.

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As a result of the restrictions placed on scientists who are funded by the government, stem cell research is depending more on corporate funding as opposed to government subsidizing.  In fact, the majority of stem cell research is performed in corporate hands (Torr 135).  Consequently, privately funded companies will control the direction of future research (McCabe 8).  Two decades ago, the United States government would not contribute federal funds into in vitro fertilization.  As a result, the industry would fill the vacuum left by federal paralysis.  If this federal paralysis continues, many US scientists are concerned that other countries will ...

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