Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Human embryonic stem cell research has been seen as unethical and immoral due to the potential of the cell developing into a person. Stem cell research itself has proven the ways in which the medical field can advance and benefit from experimentation. The controversy lies within the "embryonic" aspect. Cells are the smallest units of living matter and are capable of independent functioning. Stem cells can be considered precursor cells (Melloni). This means that the cells can produce other cells that are able to differentiate into specific cell types according to manipulation. The term embryonic refers to anything relating to the embryo. An embryo is an organism in the earliest stage of development, which in humans is from the time of conception to the end of the second month within the uterus. Embryos are the current foundation for human life and that is where the problems arise. The embryonic stem cell is appealing for research purposes because all the tissue types within the body originate from these particular cells. Cardiac muscle, pancreatic islets and the brain itself are produced from the same stem cell. Robert Golden, MD, states that the use of embryonic stem cells in research can greatly improve the lives of millions suffering from heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (which is characterized by the atrophy or degeneration of the muscles). The fact that embryonic stem cells have the capacity generate any and all fetal and adult cell types is what makes them more appealing for use over adult stem cells (Vats). In order to use these stem cells though they have to be harvested. Embryonic stem cells can be harvested using many different techniques which are continually changing in attempts to save the embryo. The most common way of obtaining these cells is through left over assisted reproductive

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