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Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Advancements in medical technology has allowed for a new understanding of stem cells and further developments in research. The use of stem cells in regenerative medicine may hold significant benefits for those suffering from degenerative diseases. To avail such advancements in stem cell research could see the alleviation or complete cure of afflictions that take the lives of millions worldwide each year. (McLaren, 2001) A stem cell 1 is able differentiate into any somatic cell found in the human body, including those identical to itself.

Differentiation is a cellular process whereby a stem cell will divide into a specialised cell, for example a neuron2. To harness the unique cellular function of a stem cell could mean the cultivation of entirely new organs; saving countless lives and resolving acute organ transplant shortages. (Healey, 2007) Although stem cell research poses a considerable breakthrough in regenerative medicine, it raises serious ethical controversy. A specific type of stem cell used in regenerative research is an embryonic stem (ES) cell; harvested through the destruction of human embryos. (Hurlbut, 2006) This poses a significant ethical dilemma, as ES cells are sourced from pre-implantation embryos leftover from In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). The destruction of embryos is seen by many as an abuse of human life, an exploitation of those that are living, but cannot decide their own fate. (Masters, 2005) Before ES cell research is to make a positive impact on modern medicine and the global scientific community, this ethical predicament must first be considered.

Embryonic stem cell research will allow for an emerging era of medicine, where researches will be capable of providing a cure for many of todays degene...

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...velopment, Monash University, Australia

Fuchs, E 2008, Stem Cells: Biology, Ethics and Potential for Medicine, L'annuarie du College de France, France

Denker, H 2006, Potentiality of Embryonic Stem Cells: An Ethical Problem Even With Alternative Stem Cell Sources, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Scott, C 2008, Stem Cells: new frontiers of ethics, law and policy, Stanford University, United States of America

Healey, J 2007, Cloning & Stem Cell Research, Volume 265 edn, The Spinney Press, Sydney, Australia

Morgan, S 2006, From Microscopes to Stem Cell Research: discovering regenerative medicine, White-Thomson Publishing, Oxford, United Kingdom

Dowswell, P 2000, Genetics: the impact on our lives, Hodder & Wayland, London, United Kingdom

Maters, C 2005, DNA and your body: what you need to know about biotechnology, UNSW Press, Sydney, Australia
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