Stem Cell Research by Miranda Sanchez

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What is it?
Stem Cell Research is the use of human stem cells for finding cures to diseases and cancer. The two main types of stem cells are embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. The use of embryonic stem cells is because the stem cells can differentiate into all of the specialized embryonic tissues. The adult stem cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells, but also maintaining the normal turnover of regenerative organs. However, both stem cells can be grown and transformed into specialized cells that would be the same to various tissues such as muscles or nerves.

What is the purpose?
These cells are suitable because they are so versatile and can be specialized to many different types of cells. These cells have proved to be very important to modern science and the fight against diseases thought treatments such as bone marrow transplants used to treat leukemia. Also, in the future, medical researchers think that they will be able to use these cells to treat a wider variety of diseases including cancer, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and muscle damage.

What are the major breakthroughs that have been done?
In 1978, haematopoietic stem cells were discovered in human cord blood. In 2001, former President Bush enacted that no federal funding would go towards Stem Cell Research, but that the embryonic stem cell lines that were made before it, namely 21 of them, could continue. However, due to private creation of stem cells, there are been numerous amounts of stem cell lines that continue to move on. Just recently, however, in May 2009, Kim et al. announced that they had devised a way to manipulate skin cells to create patient specific "induced pluripotent stem cells," claiming it to be the 'ultimate stem cell solution. 

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PROS VS. CONS

Pros
The idea of Stem Cell Research has sparked much controversy throughout the country. Some speculate that the results would have a significant effect on medical potential. It has already shown to work for Bone Marrow Transplants, so just think about all of the possibilities in the future that would help humankind.Like magic seeds, they respond to built-in genetic instructions to develop into bone cells, muscle cells, brain cells or any other type of cell as the growing body takes form.

Cons

The use of embryonic cells, especially, has lead to the great debate over whether it would lead to reproductive cloning that would essentially devalue life.

This greatly creates an ethical conflict for people of many religious faiths, including Catholics, who consider embryos to be living beings, and their destruction, murder. This then lead to notable religious colleges and universities to be unable to study these groundbreaking ideas. Also, one of the significant set backs that have happen is that some stem cells can only be derived from living humans, so it has forced researchers to turn to adult stem cells, which isn’t much better in the debate.



RELATION TO LITERATURE & REAL LIFE

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Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus
In Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, the creator of the Creature, Dr. Frankenstein, deals with the idea of taking human cells, mainly whole human body parts, to construct his creation. This is similar, in a way, to researchers who take stem cells from adults, children, and everyone in between to help with the study of cures and even the transplant of human tissues.


The Island of Doctor Moreau
Dr. Moreau, essentially, the mad-scientist that does vivisection on animals to turn them into humans, in fact, does take animal tissues and human tissues to try to put them together. Every time he does not have a success, he discards them and leaves them to fend for themselves out on his island. This story, is very significant because it shows the perspective of a person against Stem Cell Research.

The House of the Scorpion
In this story, El Patron, a large landowner in the land called Opium, uses his power and resources to create clones of him to further his life. He actually does use stem cells from himself to implant into clone embryos to eventually harvest their organs when he needs them. However, things go awry when one clone dares to be different than the rest and becomes like an actual human. 

CONNECTION TO REAL LIFE
: Throughout the years, many people have voiced their opinions on this issue of stem cell research. In a speech given by former President Bush, he says, “I’m a strong supporter of science and technology…I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our creator.” In response to former President Bush’s idea of Stem Cell Research, President Obama said that, “In recent years, rather then furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe in a false choice between sound science and moral values.” The debate even between a former president and our president shows that everyone has an opinion on this matter.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

  ·         “Debrief: Embryonic Stem Cell Debate.” CBSNews.com. n.p. Web. 29 May 2009 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-4854655-503544.html?tag=mncol;lst;1

·         “Skin cells turned into brain cells in stem cell breakthrough.”Telegraph.ca.uk. n.p. 27 Jan 2010 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/7085635/Skin-cells-turned-into-brain-cells-in-stem-cell-breakthrough.html

·         “Adult Stem Cell Research Avoids Ethics Concerns.” VOANews.com. n.p. 20 May 2010 http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/science-technology/Adult-Stem-Cell-Research-Avoids-Ethical-Concerns-94507429.html

·         “Bush Announces Position on Stem Cell Research.” Washingtonpost.com. n.p. 9 Aug 2001 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/onpolitics/transcripts/bushtext_080901.htm

·         “Obama Reverses Bush Policy on Stem Cell Research : The Ban on Federal Funding Is Lifted.” Washintonpost.com. n.p. 10 May 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/09/AR2009030901194.html