Embryonic And Adult Stem Cells Essay

1868 words - 7 pages

According to Nancy Reagan, “Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to alleviate so much suffering. Surely, by working together, we can harness its life-giving potential.” The increase in understanding of what is possible with stem cells, has led the topic of stem cell research to become one of the biggest social issues of our time. Over the last couple of decades, it has come down to two main types of stem cells: embryonic and those derived from adults. This is where the lines are drawn and arguments break out, because of personal morals and ethics. However, most people feel that stem cells are a great alternative to other treatments - until the topic turns to embryonic stem cells, in which a human embryo must be killed in order to harvest these cells. This means that stem cells can be one of two things: 1) stem cell research could be the miracle cure we have been waiting for, or 2) it will it be the cause of World War III.
To get a better understanding of the situation is to have knowledge and background to help understand exactly what stem cells are. Stem cells are a type of cell that is found throughout the human body, which can reproduce themselves over long periods of time. These cells have the capability to be specialized in a broad range of specialties such as brain, muscle, and lung cells. Places from which these can be obtained are bone marrow, fat cells, umbilical cord blood, and adult blood. These cells can also be obtained from olfactory nerve endings, skin cells, and human embryos (Stem Cell Research News). All of these different types of stem cells are broken down into two groups. First, there are adult (or somatic) stem cells that are cells that are derived from humans any time after embryonic development. The other main type of stem cell is embryonic stem cells, which are derived from a four-to-five day old embryo, thus killing the embryo (What Are Stem Cells). Stem cells have the potential to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions, making them a rather important to the medical field (Kooser, Amanda).
With all of the breakthrough medical treatments and procedures occurring, there are always controversies and misconceptions. For stem cells, there is a large number of people that think that stem cells are a bad thing because they kill embryos. This by far is the biggest misconception for stem cells, since embryonic stem cells are not the only kind that have been adult as well. However, it is the difference between the two stem cells that has become the biggest social issue. It is widely believed that conducting stem cell research with embryonic cells is highly unethical and immoral. However, adult stem cells can be harvested from a living human using a process that will not critically endanger the cell donor (Myths and Misconceptions). All of this comes down to the big debate of when does life begin.
An issue very similar to that of the debate on abortion is the issue of justifying when life has...

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