Stem Cell Research: Scientific Advancement vs. Human Rights

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Introduction to Stem Cells As improvements in scientific technology and techniques allow for better observations and insights into the natural world, so to do advancements in medical research occur on a seemingly daily basis. On such research topic that has found itself the center of a global debate is the issue of stem cell research. Hailed by some as one of the most dynamic areas of research ever to exist, it is thought to be the next big “revolution” in medicine, surpassing even the advent of anesthesia and antibiotics (Towns, 2004). Though the reputation does not come without controversy, stem cell research can be found in the headlines of news publications for changes in policy or position on the topic equally as much as breakthroughs in research. With the recent death of former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy’s pledge to find a cure for the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease from which he suffered, stem cell research became a leading domestic issue in the President race of 2004. Defined as “unspecialized cells that renew themselves for long periods through cell division” and “under certain physiological or experimental conditions. . . can be induced to become cells with special functions,” stem cells hold the key to many developmental mysteries for biologist (National, 2002). Originally described by Owen in 1945 when studying chimerism in a pair of twin cows (Cogle, 2003), stems cell research has gained momentum since the mid 1970’s culminating with the first successful culturing of human embryonic stem cells in November 1998 at the University of Wisconsin. Scientists currently working with both animal and human stem cells are currently working at identifying the factors behind stem cells’ ability to remain u... ... middle of paper ... ...Reproductive BioMedicine Online. Jun2003, Vol. 6 Issue 4, p438. Theodosius. “Embryonic stem cell research in the perspective of Orthodox Christianity.” Orthodox Church in America. (Website). Last Updated 10/17/2001. http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/documents/Pastoral-Letters/2001-Stem-Cell-Research.html Towns, C. R.; Jones, D. G. “Stem cells, embryos, and the environment: a context for both science and ethics.” Journal of Medical Ethics. Aug2004, Vol. 30 Issue 4, p410-13. University of Wisconson. “Embryonic Stem Cells: Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.” (Website). http://www.news.wisc.edu/packages/stemcells/. Vogel, Gretchen. “Can Adult Stem Cells Suffice?” Science. 06/08/2001 , Vol. 292 Issue 5523, p1820-22. Vogel, Gretchen. “Regulations Constrain Stem Cell Research Across the Globe.” Science. 8/9/2002 , Vol. 297 Issue 5583, p924

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