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A pre-embryo is the fertilized cell that has not yet been planted into the human host. Once the pre-embryo is implanted into the female host, it is assumed that it will grow and develop into a human being. The pre-embryo is not the same as the embryo, it is simply the raw material.
A national bioethics committee has been assigned the duty of exploring these issues and making recommendations that will shape future public policy (Eiseman 71). This committee will help to assure that research using embryonic stem cells proceeds in an acceptable direction.
4.0 Future of the Issue
Regardless of the emotional issues and personal opinions regarding the use of embryonic stem cells in research, and eventually, in the cure of many diseases, stem cell research continues at an increasing rate. A search in PubMed reveals over 23,000 studies that mention stem cells or stem cell research. Stem cell research holds the potential for the promise of a cure for many currently incurable conditions. Much of the current body of research concentrates on finding the mechanisms the control stem cell regeneration and the ability to grow new tissues.
Currently, the first clinical trials are getting underway to help search for the cures to diseases such as acute lympohblastic leukemia (ALL) (Brentjens, 375) and other metastatic gliomas (Gonia, Goldsby, and Matthay et al. 4162). Due to the controversies over embryonic stem cells, many of these trials use adult harvested stem cells that cause no harm to the donor. However, it is not known if these cells are as good as undifferentiated embryonic stem cells. The verdict is far away and will be a long time coming. If embryonic stem cells are found to be superior to adult harvested stem cells, then researchers and ethics analysts will have to decide if it is right to deny a person the life-saving treatment that they need because a "potential" human being may lose their life.
The debate over embryonic stem cell research becomes complicated when one must tell an adult that their life is not worth as much as a few cells from an embryo that "might have been." This is the heart of the debate and a scenario that is currently being played out. It is difficult to justify denying potentially life-saving treatments to someone who has been a productive member of society and whose life has an impact on the many other lives that they touch. The emotional appeal argument works both ways. The key point is that embryonic stem cell research already has the potential to save lives.
It is arguable whether the stem cells used for embryonic research represent "human life." They are as of yet, undifferentiated and it has not been determined that they will develop into a human being. They were not chosen for implant because they were not considered to be the most viable for the in vitro fertilization process. That is not to say that a human produced from them would be anything short of a miracle, it is doubtful whether they would have developed into a human being at all.
Emotional appeals set aside, the real question is whether it is wrong to impede the pace of research and the search for cures to currently incurable diseases. Understanding the history and basics of human stem cell research provides a better understanding from which to form an opinion. Right now, research is on the cusp of some amazing discoveries regarding the use of stem cell research, Medical breakthroughs are likely to come that will change people's lives. Support for stem cell research should continue to be supported, regardless of the minority that is currently opposed to it. There is simply too much at risk to do otherwise.
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