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Stem Cells Failure

When does a sperm and egg begin to resemble what we call a fetus? Research has shown that at four weeks, the embryo is the size of an seasame seed (New Health Advisor). The cells that make up this sesame seed could be the future of regenerative medicine. Stem cells are the cells made during the process of fertilization. They are the first traces of humans, making them basically a blank slate for all types of cells. They can become essentially any type of cell in the human, thus giving them immense value to our society.

They could be able to replenish the cells needed for patients with diabetes and maybe even cancer. Stem cells have the capability to better the population. The issue is that to recover stem cells, the embryo must be destroyed. This causes the ethical question of whether they should be used them or not. Although stem cell research can push ethical boundaries, the FDA should allow more lenient research and the eventual use of stem cells because they may open doors for other science research areas, allow medical drug testing to become safer and more efficient, and provide cures for diseases. The Drawbacks:

There have been an enormous amount of criticisms over the use of stem cells, a majority being a morality matter. The issue others have with stem cells is that they have yet to yield actual beneficial results. A prime example is when Michael Cook, an editor at MercadorNet, voices, “they were always about promising developments rather than proven cures” (Cook). Critics of stem cells expect them to just suddenly become applicable to us with the small amount of research allowed on the topic. In a sense this is true, embryonic stem cells have yet to cure a person, due to the harsh regulations placed on the research for them.

Even the former FDA commissioner has stated that he has seen how regenerative medicine has offered cures to kidney failure and other chronic diseases (Rodriguez). Next is the fact that people believe that the use of stem cells are immoral and unethical. This is truly based off the person who views this. There can never be a measure of what is ethical and unethical due to all the different perspectives of the human race. However, the time when stem cells are extracted is during a phase where the embryo does not resemble a human fetus, more so a sesame seed (New Health Advisor).

The cells do not have arms or legs at all. They may have eye holes and stubs where the limbs belong. Yet, what is deemed a human tends to vary between countries and even people. Also there is a close alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells which are adult stem cells, also known as induced pluripotent cells; These are cells extracted from bone marrow, the brain, and even the heart. They are genetically altered to resemble embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells give a way around the ethical boundaries the embryonic stem cells have, however these still have their setbacks, which will be discussed later on.

People have understandable fears for the future, but sometimes change is inevitable. Not only will stem cells help patients, it will open doors for other research programs. Stem cells are the future of medicine, but for them to actually be useful, other research must be done on additional relevant topics which make stem cells more applicable. For instance, human genetics would have to be researched deeply as it is closely related to stem cells and how they function. An example of how stem cells have opened doors is the chimera. The chimera is a human-pig embryo that has been constructed.

An author from National Geographic wrote, “”In the past, human-animal chimeras have been beyond reach. Such experiments are currently ineligible for public funding in the United States”. (Blakemore). This research has still yet to be funded by the United States, although they do have private donators. Without stem cells, this research and discovery would have never been made! However, this human-pig embryo should still be closely observed as to not infuriate the more conservative public with the “ demeaning of human life” (Blackwell) .

It also gives perspective on the religious beliefs being used as the border for what is deemed unethical. If a research subject is deemed disreputable or immoral by groups whose beliefs are established from their religion then it gets shut down. Many religious groups, such as the Center for Bioethics and Culture and Family Research Council, have used their religious beliefs to strictly regulate stem cells research and use. This happens because “ Regulations can breed a kind of languor in which restrictions are kept in place out of complacency. That’s the surest way to kill innovation” (Entine).

It is comprehensible to be cautious with scientific discoveries due to the fact that sometimes they can cause more harm than good. However stem cells show the possibilities of greatness. To make judgements upon them, you need actual facts, not just opinions. In the last few years, the public outcry against animal cruelty has been astonishing; Therefore medical drug testing on animals has been under harsh scrutiny. Stem cells offer a solution to this conundrum. The FDA states, “For medical devices, the focus of animal testing is on the device’s ability to function with living tissue without harming the tissue (biocompatibility)” (FDA Basics).

These cells are essentially blank slates that can grow into all types of cells. This means that scientists can use these cells to test upon instead of using actual animals by fulfilling the needs usually accomplished by helpless animals. This helps other animal organizations like PETA achieve their goals and gives more purpose to embryonic stem cells. Also, even when these medical drugs are tested, they still can be dangerous to the population. A writer from Technology Review writes, “often compounds that appear safe in the rodents prove to be toxic in humans”(Chu).

It seems blatantly obvious that a new drug testing method needs to be put into action. The same author wrote, “Studying how potential drugs affect embryonic stem cells could provide a far more accurate prediction of a drug’s potential toxicity than conventional animal models can” (Chu). There have been many drugs that have been tested on animals, but have had negative effects on humans. A prime example of this is the linkage between antiepileptic drugs that mothers have taken and autism in their children. This could have possibly been avoided by testing the toxicity of these drug on stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to help stop the unnecessary side effects of drugs, and even if they do fail it would be better than not trying. Last is the most obvious reason for the use of embryonic stem cells. There are high chances that once the medical systems are able to use them, they will cure the “incurable” diseases. Statistics show that approximately 1. 25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes, and diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 234,051 death certificates (Statistics About Diabetes). Diabetes occurs when the immune system in one’s body attacks beta-cells that produce insulin.

It is usually treated with insulin injections and insulin pumps. With the research that has occurred, studies show that stem cells can be made into these beta-cells, revealing“the group at Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute coaxed human embryonic stem cells into pancreatic cells”(Wheelwright). They have yet to use them on actual humans due to the probability that the subject’s body will reject the new beta-cells. These embryonic stem cells also could be the answer to the organ donor issue. Patients with heart diseases, leukemia and autoimmune diseases are often in need of transplants.

However, these needs are unlikely to be filled due the shortage of organs creating an astonishing amount of preventable deaths. Adult stem cells are most commonly used for treating lymphoma, leukemia, or autoimmune diseases that require cytotoxic treatments followed by rescue of the hematopoietic lineages and immune system (Terzic). However, adult stem cells still resemble the original cell they were before their genetic alteration. Stem cells also could possibly cure some blindness by repairing retinas. From a study from Robert Lanza, Wheelwright writes, “Not only were there no adverse effects from the transplanted cells … t 10 patients showed marked improvements in vision…” (Wheelwright).

The blindness that these cells can cure is called macular degeneration. It is the leading cause of blindness in adults and juveniles. By 2050, the estimated number of people with AMD is expected to more than double from 2. 07 million to 5. 44 million (U. S Department of Health and Human Services). If scientists were able to fix this disease millions of patient’s sight could be saved. Because of the potential benefits The use of these cells are so idolized by desperate ill people that they have been traveling out of their own countries to seek the treatment elsewhere.

This is potentially dangerous due to the fact doctors who are doing these procedures are not qualified. It is important that these the cells are not used until they are cleared as safe for the population. Embryonic stem cells may have some drawbacks such as them being more dangerous than helpful toward society, and that they are basically demeaning human life. Nevertheless, stem cells have many benefits that very well could change the way humans are treated medically and the amount of people affected by “incurable” diseases. In the future, the risks that we take now will positively change our future and save lives.

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