Embryonic and Adult Stem Cell Research

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Embryonic and Adult Stem Cell Research

With the advent of a wide variety of scientific advances in the medical field, especially those improvements in health-related fields, the quality of life for the earth’s inhabitants has improved greatly over the past century. Scientists continue to improve upon current knowledge and expand the field of medicine. Over the past few years, scientists have performed significant research pertaining to the study of stem cells. Many researchers see potential in the manipulation of stem cells - possible treatments for currently incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (Goldstein). With these new discoveries, though, questions as to the morality of such practices arise. While few find an ethical problem with the processes involved in adult stem cell research, the destruction of thousands of helpless embryos is wrong and cannot compensate for the potential benefits of embryonic stem cell research, namely some saved lives.

There currently exist two primary methods of obtaining stem cells, or generic cells that have the potential to differentiate into more specialized cell types. Most stem cell research is done with embryonic stem cells. When the sperm and the egg combine in the fertilization process, a single zygote cell forms. This cell contains all the same genetic information as every cell in a fully developed human. The only difference is that this zygote has no special function, except to divide multiple times. These other cells that come about as a result of cell division eventually specialize into every type of cell in the body. Because embryonic stem cells have not taken on a specific purpose, they can be manipulated to form the type of cell desired, based on the environm...

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Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. "Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Unethical." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center 2003. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group. 18 October 2003. <http://www.galenet.comk/servlet/OVRC>

Goldstein, Lawrence S.B. "Human Stem Cell Research is Ethical." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center 2003. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group. 18 October 2003. <http://www.galenet.comk/servlet/OVRC>

Jordan, Craig T. and Van Zant, Gary. "The Biology of Stem Cells." The Biomedical Engineering Handbook. 2nd ed. 2000.

Sullivan, Andrew. "Early Human Embryos are Human Beings." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center 2003. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group. 18 October 2003. <http://www.galenet.com/servlet/OVRC>

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