Embryonic Stem Cell Research Provides Revolutionary and Life-saving Breakthroughs

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"Stem cell research is the key to developing cures for degenerative conditions like Parkinson's and motor neuron disease from which I and many others suffer. The fact that the cells may come from embryos is not an objection, because the embryos are going to die anyway."
-- Stephen Hawking

The phrase “stem cell” calls to mind images of controversy: Pro-life picketers outside abortion and in-vitro fertilization clinics, patients with chronic disabilities waiting on a cure, scientists in a lab experimenting with a petri dish. These cells offer unimaginable opportunities for regenerative medicine because they can retain the ability to differentiate. Stem cells are classified as either adult or embryonic. Embryonic stem cells can reproduce any cell in the body, whereas adult stem cells can only produce somatic cells within their own tissue type. Somatic simply means a cell that is not directly involved in sexual reproduction. What makes research into stem cells exciting is that they can provide a means to regenerate cells in a way that humans cannot accomplish on their own. Spinal cord tissue can be regenerated in paraplegics, giving a new lease on life to war veterans. Mental diseases associated with age such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson's, can be cured. Even entire organs can be reconstructed and implanted into patients that desperately need them, such as in the case of Claudia Castillo, who received a bronchus coated with her own cells.

Why then is such a cutting-edge and promising field subject to so much controversy? Because one of the primary sources for stem cells is blastocysts, undeveloped microscopic human offspring only 200 cells large. Generally the opponents of stem cell research are also pro-...

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Obama, Barack. "Finding a Middle Ground." Vital Speeches of the Day 75.7 (2009): 316-319. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

Scott, Christopher Thomas. Stem Cell Now: from the Experiment That Shook the World to the New Politics of Life. New York: Pi, 2006. Print.

Thompson, Tanya. "World first as woman gets organ made from stem cells." Johnston Press Digital Publishing, 18 Nov. 2008. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

Stephen Hawking Quote Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

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