Simon Harris TD. Minister for Health.
Finian McGrath TD. Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability Issues. Catherine Byrne TD. Jim Daly TD. Senior management. Jim Breslin. Secretary General of the Department of Health. Paul Bolger. Director, Resources Division. Teresa Cody. Assistant Secretary, Corporate Division. Tracey Conroy. Assistant Secretary, Acute Care Division.
Stem cell controversy
Greg Dempsey. Deputy Secretary, Governance and Performance Division. Colm Desmond. Fergal Goodman. Assistant Secretary, Primary Care Division. Tony Holohan. Chief Medical Officer. Kathleen MacLellan.
A Conservative Argument against Stem Cell Research Essay | Cram
Assistant Secretary, Social Care Division. Laura Magahy. These stem cells can renew themselves and reproduce to form all cell types of the body. Research utilizing these stem cells requires the destruction of an embryo, making the practice a point of moral, scientific, religious, and political controversy. Many argue that the destruction of embryos for research purposes is unethical based on the belief that embryos qualify as forms of life that deserve respect. Those in favor of embryonic stem cell research deem such a loss acceptable for the future benefits that this research could have on thousands of lives.
While various arguments surround this debate, the main point of controversy is the source of stem cells used and the method with which they are obtained.
In this paper, I will establish what stem cells are and the difference between embryonic and adult stem cells; then I will evaluate the two main arguments in the embryonic stem cell research debate; and finally, I will analyze the ethics of these arguments to come to the conclusion that embryonic stem cell research is ethical under certain circumstances. As defined by "The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy," human embryonic stem cells are "a self-renewing cell line that gives rise to all cells and tissues of the body" Holland 3.
Most stem cells are only able to differentiate into a single form of offspring cells, otherwise known as progeny cells.
For example, hematopoietic stem cells are a type of stem cells that can only form blood cells and skin stem cells can similarly only produce skin cells. These types of stem cells are referred to as adult stem cells or somatic stem cells because they are gathered from patients after birth Devolder 5. Meanwhile, embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the capacity to produce all cells and tissues of the body Holland 5. Embryonic stem cells, however, only have this pluripotent potential for the particular five-to-seven-day stage of embryonic development known as the blastocyst stage, after which they can only reproduce a single cell type "The Ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research" Stem cells, in general, hold great promise for the future of medicine.
Thus far, stem cell-based therapies have been developed to treat illnesses that previously had no cure. One example is bone marrow transplantation to treat leukemia and other blood disorders. The hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow are injected into a patient who has severely reduced blood cell levels and these stem cells generate new blood cells, restoring the patient's immune system Devolder 5.
Therapies such as this will continue to be discovered with the support of stem cell research. In addition to the development of revolutionary therapies, stem cell research also provides valuable information about mechanisms regulating cell growth, migration, and differentiation.
Scientists can learn about these processes by studying stem cells that have been stimulated to differentiate into different types of body cells. The discovery of new information about these concepts will allow scientists to better understand early human development and how tissues are maintained throughout life 8. Embryonic stem cells are particularly valuable not only because of their pluripotent qualities, but also because of their ability to renew themselves.
This is done by "divid[ing] asynchronously — at different times — into one differentiated daughter cell 1 and one stem cell-like daughter cell. Other types of stem cells eventually lose the ability to divide, making them less valuable for research purposes. Embryonic stem cells' ability to be produced in large quantities allows researchers to make progress in regenerative medicine, using these cells to develop new functional cells, tissues, and organs.
The healthy cells are implanted into the patient, serving as treatment to permanently repair failing organs Holland 5. The otherwise lack of treatment for loss of organ function displays the valuable potential of embryonic stem cells. The sources of embryonic stem cells are a main point of controversy in the debate regarding embryonic stem cell research. Some possible sources for these stem cells include embryos created via in vitro fertilization for either research or reproduction ; five-to-nine-week old embryos or fetuses obtained through elective abortion; and embryos created through cloning or what is known as somatic cell nuclear transfer Liu 1.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer is the laboratory creation of a viable embryo by implanting a donor nucleus from a body cell into an egg cell. The ethics of obtaining embryonic stem cells via these sources can be questionable and have led to disputes that I will later address. Research utilizing human embryonic stem cell lines has focused on the potential to generate replacement tissues for malfunctioning cells or organs Liu 1. A specific technique has been isolated to utilize stem cells in order to repair a damaged tissue or organ:.
Other examples of research efforts include treatment of spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. Researchers also hope to use specialized cells to replace dysfunctional cells in the brain, spinal cord, pancreas, and other organs 2. Federal funding of embryonic research has been strictly regulated since when President Clinton declared such research would not be funded by the government. Following this executive order, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment in , prohibiting "federally appropriated funds from being used for either the creation of human embryos for research purposes or for research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death" Liu 2.
Embryonic research has continued nonetheless by means of alternative funding. In , President Bush declared that federal funding would be granted to human embryonic research on a restricted basis. However, these funds were only to be awarded for research on already existing stem cell lines. No funding was to be granted for "the use of stem cell lines derived from newly destroyed embryos, the creation of any human embryos for research purposes, or cloning of human embryos for any purposes" The debate over funding for embryonic stem cell research depends heavily on the ethical status of the research.
There are two main arguments surrounding the ethics of embryonic stem cell research: the research is ethical because of the unique potential that embryonic stem cells have to cure currently untreatable diseases; and the research is unethical because it requires the destruction of life in the form of an embryo or fetus. Ultimately, the possible benefits and controversial status of life that an embryo embodies qualify embryonic stem cell research as ethical, as long as the stem cells are obtained in an ethical manner.
In the realm of stem cell research, embryonic and adult stem cells are often compared. The controversial use of embryonic stem cells is supported on the basis of the many advantages that they have over adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are easier to obtain; they have a greater cell growth, otherwise known as proliferation, capacity; and they are more versatile. Embryonic stem cells are isolated from embryos in the blastocyst stage and the process damages the structure of the embryo to a point from which the embryo can no longer develop.
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Because these stem cells are obtained at a point when the inner cell mass is concentrated in the embryo, they are more easily obtained than adult stem cells, which are limited in quantity. Another valuable benefit of embryonic stem cells is their ability to multiply readily and proliferate indefinitely when cultured in the proper conditions Devolder 9.