An Overview of Stem Cell Research Argumentative Essay Example
Stem cell research was discovered in 1998, and it has the potential to cure many fatal diseases. This research is fairly new and has yet to be studied to its full potential. There is insufficient information regarding stem cell research, and this issue is a result of the lack of support from many people. Before this, many scientists looked for hundreds of years for cures for these diseases, and now they are not as incurable as previously believed. Though there are concerns associated with stem cell research, furthering this endeavor could provide invaluable medical advancements for future generations.
Humans have always had stem cells. They are the cells that help create the organs that humans possess. However, until November of 1998, nobody knew that they were being grown in cell culture. This finding was considered a medical revolution because people realized all the possibilities that these cells had. Unfortunately, a majority of the cells used for research were embryonic stem cells. Because of this factor, President George W. Bush decided, after August 2001, to issue a ban on using government funds. This event worried many scientists and others that believed in the research. These believers were under the impression that all their work would be wiped out because of this decision, but thanks to states like California, research can continue (2003).
Despite Bush’s ban on government funding of embryo stem cell research, people have still found ways to support it. For example, Shirley J. Wright (1999) states that Harold Varmus, the director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), spoke to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) asking for legal advice about using pluripotent stem cells from human embryos. After looking into it, the DHHS concluded that “the congressional ban of human embryo research does not apply to research on human embryonic stem cells because the cells are not an embryo as defined by statute.” And, “since the human embryonic stem cells do not have the capacity to develop into a human, they cannot be considered human embryos.”
This fact allows DHHS to be one of the funders for research (Pg 352). As Diane Gershon states, the law that President Bush passed was constructed in a way that allowed stem cell research to be privately funded despite the fact that the government was not allowed to provide financial support for this endeavor. After realizing this opportunity, many donations came in, a majority of them being from organizations in California and other places like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International in New York. Many places outside of the US also contributed, like Australia, which gave about $26.3 million in US dollars for researchers there (pg 928).
The discovery of stem cells has opened several doors for possible cures of various diseases. Wright (1999) states that the use of human embryonic stem cells, if successful, could cure many diseases scientists previously believed to be incurable. Using tissue-transplantation therapy, cells for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients, and diabetics could be grown, and there is even potential to rebuild a heart. Rejection would no longer be a concern because these cells can be created specifically for each individual. Another reason that stem cells are beneficial is that the cells can be used for testing new drugs and other agents. Testing can be more precise than it was before because previously scientists used other species or cell lines that were similar to humans. Since animals are being replaced, the number of animals in labs will drop, which will save many animals’ lives for cures that have the possibility not to work (Pg 352).
Unethical and Immoral
Though stem cells have many positive possibilities, one major issue remains. Living embryos provide the majority of stem cells for research. There is a huge debate over it because some believe that the destruction of the embryo is the equivalent to taking a life. Wright (1999) speaks about how with this debate, there are many questions that are asked, most of which do not have a specific answer. A big one is, “Is it right to use an embryo that was killed during an abortion or trauma?”. The ones that are for the research argue that the research is giving the cells that were not given a chance a new purpose. While those who are against it, however, say that it is disrespectful to the life that could have lived. The opposers also believe that this leads to many opportunities for dangers that have not been thought of yet (pg 352). Moral issues are the main reason why so many people are against stem cell research. The fact that there have not been many effective results is another reason why people believe that the research is useless and a waste of possible life.
There are not many dangers when it comes to stem cell research, but there is a substantial danger to women. Issitt and Donnelly (2017) write about how not only religious groups, but also women's rights groups are against the rise in donation of eggs. To receive the eggs for research is a dangerous process. The women are made to undergo hormone treatments to trigger the ovaries to create eggs. Once there, a doctor inserts a needle to acquire the eggs. Egg donation can lead to problems in the woman’s future. She could acquire hyperstimulation syndrome, which can cause major blood clots in the ovaries. Since many women are taking part in this, because thousand of eggs are necessary for testing, nearly all involved are in danger (Pg 3). However, despite the dangers that come along with egg donation, the women that donate are not forced to do so. They are doing this by their own will and are told what could happen if they did.
Though the main source of stem cells comes from embryos, there are other solutions. Stem cells are being researched and scientists have found that there are other forms of stem cells that work just as well as the stem cell of an embryo. Even David Hess (2006) states that “there are ways around using embryonic stem cells, and if we took that route we’d be much further ahead than we are now” (Pg 33). By saying this he means that stem cell research is not limited to embryos and provide help for more research could result in better solutions.
Adult stem cells
One of the more recent findings of stem cells is adult stem cells. The cells are not looked at often because it is assumed that since the cells are adults, therefore would not be able to grow the cells needed as well as an embryo. The reason being is that embryo cells are still able to grow themselves, and if given the chance, they would create a human. Adult stem cells have already done their purpose in creating the cells and organs that are needed. Douglas Kerr (2006) says, “Adult stem cells are a powerful source, but they are not a blank state mother-of-all-cells that embryonic stem cells are” (Pg 33). The only problem with this alternative is that there is very limited research and ability of the cells.
A common assumption is that if a scientist is doing stem cell research, it will be on human embryonic cells, but there is another way that allows the embryo to grow. After it grows, becomes a baby, and is born, the parents can choose to donate the umbilical cord to be stored and used for research. These cords are used quite often for the testing, and the people that donated it are notified when it is used to help someone who needed the cells.
Stem cell research is still limited despite the fact that it has been around since 1998. The reason behind this is the ban of government funding by President Bush as well as the amount of people that are against it. The opposers believe that it is immoral and dangerous because the best cells for testing are human embryonic stem cells. However, there are other solutions that are being discovered, such as adult stem cells and stem cells that come from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. Though there are concerns associated with stem cell research, furthering this endeavor could provide invaluable medical advancements for future generations.