Submitted by Lisa Smith RN, BSN
Stem Cell Research is Our Future of Cures
People have the power to change the world. The donation embryos are a step in the right direction for resources to continue research to help society in the future. It is not the intent to clone but to cure. Life is a gift that we should keep giving with this great opportunity.
The body is so complex yet such a miracle. Stem cells are unique in nature that they can remain stem cells or convert to specialized cells to help heal the body such as a muscle, blood or brain cell. Stem cells are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods. Unlike muscle cells, blood cells, or nerve cells they do not regenerate. A strong population of stem cells can replicate for many months in a laboratory and yield millions of cells. “Scientists are trying to understand two fundamental properties of stem cells that relate to their long-term self-renewal. The questions at hand are why can embryonic stem cells proliferate for a year or more in the laboratory without differentiating, but most non-embryonic stem cells cannot; and what are the factors in living organisms that normally regulate stem cell proliferation and self-renewal” (Bethesda, 2009). The research involved to get these answers took decades for scientists to understand human stem cells. As scientists find answers to the above questions it brings us closer to the understanding of cells abnormally dividing and causing cancer. Adult stem cells are an option for cancer patients if the donor is a genetic match. It is pulled from the donor’s bone marrow and can be a very painful experience. This is not the same as embryonic cells that are not adult cells and can specialize to the need of the patient.
“Human embryonic and adult stem cells each have advantages and disadvantages regarding potential use for cell-based regenerative therapies. One major difference between adult and embryonic stem cells is their different abilities in the number and type of differentiated cell types they can become. Embryonic stem cells can become all cell types of the body because they are pluripotent. Adult stem cells are thought to be limited to differentiating into different cell types of their tissue of origin” (Bethesda, 2009). Embryonic stem cells can be grown in a laboratory unlike adult stem cells that have to be removed usually from tissue. Scientists are likely to feel that after testing and research that adult cells are more likely to be rejected if transplanted than embryonic cells.
It is a moral dilemma to decide if it is ethical to use the embryo. The public feels it is taking a life. Is it a life from conception? This is a right versus wrong ethical debate. Some scientists and people feel the embryo is not genetically replicated until days after conception. The real problem is that federal funding has been stopped for several research centers that was previously granted and may stop the process of cures. “ A court decision permanently halting these funds would be a tragic setback not only for the field of stem cell research, but most importantly for the patients for whom that research holds hope” (Boston’s Children Hospital (2012). If research was to be continued it would have to be private funds. Obama tried to increase the funds for research and the plan was rejected. Families have donated embryos to help with research due to the tragedies they have dealt with in their lives. The beneficence of stem cells of embryos outweighs the debate of taking a life. Chances are that the embryo was being aborted or used by the family that saved it for a family member. There is no justice in stopping research to prevent cures needed to help millions of people.
The research of stem cells is a necessity. Research is happening to find cures for cancer, insulin producing cells to help with diabetes, and recently injecting cells in the heart to repair damaged muscles. If you have a family member with any of these conditions, you would want to see this research take place to find cures. We need to have the government to put policies and funds in place to generate the research to work on the cure. It would decrease the growing expense of these chronic illnesses that we could finally fix. In the end it will benefit everyone in society. Stem cells offer exciting promises for the future and a lot of research to overcome the hurdles to success.
Bethesda, MD. (2009). Stem Cell Information . National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics7.asp
Boston’s Children Hospital (2012). Children’s responds to ongoing court battle on federal funds for embryonic stem. Retrieved from http://stemcell.childrenshospital.org/newsroom/related-topics/childrens-responds-to-ruling-on-federal-funds-for-embryonic-stem-cell-research/