Foundationally Promising Research Discoveries of Term Paper

  • Length: 20 pages
  • Subject: Biology
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #95138553

Excerpt from Term Paper :

For some the issue then arises when the pluripotent cells are removed from the blastocyst, as this very act negates the ability for the cell group to develop into a human being. "Note that the process of changing from totipotent to pluripotent to multipotent cells is not reversible -- that is, pluripotent stem cells do not produce totipotent stem cells, and multipotent stem cells do not produce pluripotent stem cells."

Borror, O'Rourke and Skirboll 54) Additionally, the proponents of stem cell work cite the pluripotent as incapable of producing a human being therefore not a destruction of life, hence leading to the Bush decision to ban the creation of new lines of stem cells, as it would require the destruction of further human totipotent cells.

Multipotent. The pluripotent stem cells undergo further specialization into multipotent stem cells, which are committed to giving rise to cells that have a particular function. Examples of this include blood stem cells that give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets; and skin stem cells that give rise to the various types of skin cells...While stem cells are extraordinarily important in early human development, multipotent stem cells are also found in children and adults. For example, consider one of the best understood stem cells, the blood stem cell. Blood stem cells reside in the bone marrow of every child and adult, and in fact, they can be found in very small numbers circulating in the blood stream. Blood stem cells perform the critical role of continually replenishing our supply of blood cells -- red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets -- throughout life. A person cannot survive without blood stem cells.

It is for this reason and others that many pro-life advocates prefer to see funding for stem cell research to move toward the use of stem cells present in the adult human rather than that of an undeveloped embryo. Many legislators, briefed in the intricacies of the basic stem cell concepts and abiding by a moralistic foundation similar to George W. Bush have opted to limit the use of the more readily available and historical sources for stem cells. The conservative then prefer to seek out legislative results that limit the use of embryonic stem cells and in their thinking force the scientific community to redirect their investigations toward the scientifically less promising and more challenging, in many ways adult stem cell research. One promising development in the issue of stem cell research is the limitation of recipient rejection in umbilical cord source blood for bone marrow transplantation, though limited offers promising solutions if the ownership of such sources can be more readily defined.

Bourque and Sugarman 65) Proponents of stem cell research on the other hand demonstrate considerable concern about the limitation of resources as the adult stem cell is already specialized and only a few specialized groups are identified and accessible.

Stem Cell Biology a Political Issue

One would believe that with the discovery of such a potentially promising line of treatment the developed and developing world would embrace the new science and begin to test and even implement its use. To some degree this has been the case, yet despite the promise of stem cell biology and the long list of potential disease cures the bioethics of stem cell biology have left much of the research and mostly its potential growth in a quagmire of political and religious debate. It seems that at the same rate that new possibilities are perceived by the scientist and clinicians in research theory and practice the number of groups and individuals raising questions about the ethics and morality of the line of research and creating statements and standards that are designed to hopefully sway the decisions of government on the issue of stem cell research.

Nelson 49) number of authoritative groups, hoping to guide both publicly and privately funded research on human embryonic stem cells, issued reports on the ethical problems involved. These bodies include the Ethics Advisory Board constituted by Geron Corporation; the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in concert with the Institute for Civil Society [1] the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity [2] and, most recently, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, which was established by executive order of the president in 1995 to provide recommendations concerning governmental policies or activities as they involve ethical issues emerging from biological research and its clinical applications. [3]

Of these four bodies, only the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a Christian educational foundation, has been implacable in its opposition to all research involving the destruction of embryos, no matter how it is funded. The other committees have given a more or less cautious green light to stemcell research.

Nelson 49)

The President's Council on Bioethics, is a brain trust that guides the president in his understanding of policy implementation on issues of bioethical import. The most recent changes in council strongly lean in favor of Bush's individual morality on the issue of stem cell research and the like. "...the Bush administration dropped renowned cell biologist -- and proponent of embryonic stem-cell research -- Elizabeth Blackburn from the President's Council on Bioethics, in favor of Diana Schaub, a political scientist who believes cloning to be 'evil.'" ("To Those Who've Been") Though not a practice new to this president many scientists and researchers are clearly concerned about the stacking of the cards in favor of further limitations on research using embryonic stem cells, and many other bioethical and often controversial issues.

The American Medical Association has been historically in favor of stem cell biology research "Our AMA: (1) encourages strong public support of federal funding for research involving human pluripotent stem cells (PSC)"

Eiseman 89) As a representative of thousands of practicing physicians and research physicians the words of such an organization are paramount to the development of projects and programs that further the development of stem cell technology. The organization has a generally moderate conception of that which it deems ethical in research and development and adopts the standards associated with another influential organization, The National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

An article in the August 2, 1999, American Medical News reviewed NBAC's recommendations on human stem cell research (Gianelli, 1999). The article gave details of NBAC's final deliberations on stem cell research, relating that NBAC adopted an _intermediate_ position that an embryo merits respect as human life, but not at the level generally accorded to persons. The article highlighted several of NBAC's key recommendations, including that research involving stem cells from embryos left over from infertility treatments and research involving germ cells from aborted fetuses should be federally funded; research using embryos created solely for research purposes, through either in vitro fertilization or cloning techniques, should not be federally funded; a national review panel and public registry should be established; and proper informed consent procedures must be followed for embryo and tissue donors.

Eiseman 89)

The political pull of a very large lobbying group, the AMA is felt yet the resulting moderate response to the use of discarded embryos has not been entirely reflected in the conservative legislation detailed later in this work.

Another group of interest that has demonstrated considerable pull on the conservative side is the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics. "The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, reported that scientific evidence does indicate that adult stem cells are a viable alternative."

Hentoff 19) The moralistic organization strongly asserts the ideals of the alternative federal legislation associated with many conservative legislators and many of Bush's supporters and advisors. Though funding is the demonstrative beginning for the creation of government control over the issue of the bioethics of stem cell research the resulting controversy seems to have incited legislative action to further define the legality not only of funding support but of that which is legal or illegal. The beginning step was the assertion that cloning of human cells is illegal. Some ardent proponents of stem cell biology would conclude this to be the beginning of the end of a promising line of scientific medical research while more moderate thinkers applaud the action of the federal government as a realistic step toward regulating the bioethics of this new and promising research base before it goes completely astray of the purpose of curing and treating human disease.

Stem Cell Legislation

Recent stem cell legislation lends in the favor of the conservative, as has been said before. This is likely a result of the more conservative elements in congress having the strongest moral/ethical feelings about the need to curtail the acts of scientists before what they consider amoral acts occur. This standard can be clearly seen in the language of the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001

6)(A) it will be nearly impossible to ban attempts…

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