Stem Cell Research Since the Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

This means that while there are tremendous amounts of promise. The preferred method of embryotic cells is still the most utilized approach. However, in the future this could change dramatically. The reason why is because scientists have been aggressively pursuing this method. This is based on the fact that there are no ethical issues when conducting this kind of research and there is a possibility of having a major breakthrough. In the future, this will lead to many scientists focusing on this approach over using embryos. The biggest reasons are it does not have the controversy and it can deliver the same results. Once this happens, is when there will be shift in the debate about ethics among both sides. (Yidrim, 2011, pp. 11 -- 17)

How New Techniques can Avoid Ethical Debates

There are a number of techniques that will allow scientists to conduct stem cell research without violating any kind of ethical standards. This is because the approaches that were discussed earlier (i.e. iPSC and adult) will not harm embryos. For both sides, there is no ethical argument about the use of this process during the course of conducting any kind of research. As a result, the only issue that will be debated is how these kinds of therapies can be developed and integrated into modern medicine.

Yet, when you look a little further, it is clear that there are other approaches that are used in stem cell research (parthenogenesis) which are creating controversy. Parthenogenesis is when scientists are using an unfertilized egg to harvest the stem cells. The basic idea is that this can offer scientists another approach of conducting research without having to destroy any kind of embryos. However, the problem is that an unfertilized egg is being destroyed (which pro-life supporters will argue is terminating human life). This is adding to the overall conflicts about stem cell research.

Despite these issues research is continuing to occur on a regular basis. In many cases, scientists have found that this is another avenue of being able to create stem cells outside of the three methods. The effectiveness of this approach is that it can be able to mirror the same kind of results as embryotic stem cells. A good example of this can be seen in a study that was conducted by Qingyun (2007) who wrote, "Parthenogenesis is one of the main, and most useful, methods to derive embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which may be an important source of histocompatible cells and tissues for cell therapy. Short Tandem Repeat (STR) results demonstrated that the hPES lines were genetic matches with the egg donors, and gene imprinting data confirmed the parthenogenetic origin of these ES cells. Genome-wide SNP analysis showed a pattern typical of parthenogenesis. All of these results demonstrated the feasibility to isolate and establish human parthenogenetic ESC lines, which provides an important tool for studying epigenetic effects in ESCs as well as for future therapeutic interventions in a clinical setting." This is significant, in showing how parthenogenesis is effective in being able produce stem cells. (Qingyun, 2007, pg. 1008)

When it comes to the ethical issues under parthenogenesis the therapeutic techniques that are used is the most controversial. This is when scientists are extracting the egg and will alter it to contain the desired genetic information. In all cases, the donors are chosen from women who are not menopausal. However, the problem is that during this process is when the egg will more than likely be changed in some way. This is causing a conflict from the need to create possible therapy techniques and with the altering of the egg. To make matters worse, a host of studies are being published showing how this approach can improve the ability of scientists to isolate and treat a variety of conditions. (Qingyun, 2007, pp. 1008 -- 1019)

Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Chad (2004) he observed, "The data indicates that the human embryonic stem-cell lines reproducibly differentiate in vitro and in vivo into cell types from all three embryonic germ layers. The 17 new cell lines described here should facilitate our understanding of the mechanisms by which differentiation of embryonic stem cells may be controlled to produce cell types for drug development and for transplantation in the treatment of disease. Under current regulations, the HUES cell lines cannot be used in research that is funded, even in part, by federal funds. The cells are being made available to researchers by Dr. Melton's laboratory under a Material Transfer Agreement." This is important, because it is highlighting how this form of stem cell therapy can be used in drug treatment and for transplants. While at the same time, scientists feel as if they are restricted in their research based on the politics and ethics surrounding this issue. The aforementioned is in spite of the fact that eggs are destroyed during in-vitro fertilization. The only difference is that pro-life supporters are not taking a similar kind of stance on the issue in comparison with stem cell treatment. (Chad, 2004, pp. 1353 -- 1356)

Conclusion

Clearly, stem cell research is considered to be an ethical practice. This is because many of the techniques that critics are complaining about (i.e. The destruction of embryos and eggs) are considered to be terminating human life. However, when you look beneath the surface journalists will often frame the issue in a way to reach out to their intended audience. This means that they will take various scientific facts and use them to highlight how this is creating a problem. In the case of many pro-life journalists, they will take these facts to show how human life is being destroyed.

Yet, beyond the spin there is evidence to support how this practice occurs during in-vitro fertilization. At the same time, scientists have identified other ways of extracting the cell from different parts of the body. These approaches do not cause any kind of controversy. This is important, in showing how the risks to human life are exaggerated by many pro-life supporters. Instead, the process has been politicized based on the fact that various kinds of treatment could use an embryo. This has impeded progress in areas of potential therapies from the opposition. Even though many of these procedures will occur at fertility clinics, and no one will say anything about what is happening. As a result, this is evidence of how many journalists have taken a scientific issue and spun it to the point that no one understands what is really happening.

References

Chad, C. (2004). Derivation of Embryotic Stem Cells Lines. New England Journal of…

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