Embryo and Stem Cell Research

4041 Words17 Pages
Thesis: While embryo and stem cell research may one day provide treatments for many diseases; including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, paralysis and cancer, ethical consideration must be addressed in order for scientist to utilize human embryos for medical research. I. Introduction Stem cell research has shown a great promise and advance in its technique since 1998 when human pluripotent stem cells were isolated for the first time. Since then research on stem cells has received much public attention both because of their extraordinary potential in curing devastating diseases and because of relevant legal and ethical issues. While embryo stem cell research may one day provide treatments for many diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, paralysis and cancer, ethical consideration must be addressed in order for scientists to utilize human embryos for medical research. The purpose of this paper is to inform the reader about the stem cells and research involving embryonic stem cells and others, and to address some of the ethical and moral considerations. It is important to understand the basic concepts and terminology. The following section will give definitions, types and origins of stem cells. It will then be followed by further discussion of embryo stem cells, giving specific attention to their pluripotent characteristics and differences from adult stem cells. Finally the moral and ethical issues will be addressed from scientist and pro-life advocate's point of view. The stem cell research is still in its infancy and needs a lot of support and effort to advance further. In order to promote the advance of the techniques for the good of human kind, it is important to understand the topic and issues around the stem cell research and thus promote more stem cell research. II. Background Information What are Stem Cells? A stem cell is a special kind of cell that has a unique capacity to self-replicate and to give rise to specialized cells. There are three basic types of stem cells: totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent. Totipotent stem cells, meaning their potential is total, have the capacity to give rise to every cell type of the body and have the potential to develop into a fetus when they are placed into the uterus (Wang, 2002). To date, no such totipotent stem cell lines (primary cell cultures) have been developed. Pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem cells, are capable of generating types of cells that develop from the three germ layers (mesoderm, endoderm, and ectoderm) from which all the cells of the body arise (National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Service (NIH), 2001, p 2).
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