The Stem Cell Dilemma Essay

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The Stem Cell Dilemma

Every day, nearly 3,000 people die while waiting for an organ transplant (D’Agnese). Moreover, 66,000 people are still on an organ donor list in the United States, few of which will ever see their name come up on that list (“Improving”). Many people believe nothing can be done about this sad fact. However, this is not the case. Studies on stem-cell research point toward a solution to this deadly problem. With efficient use of stem cells, many diseases and medical problems could be solved.

Stem-cells are very young, specialized cells. Usually coming from a human embryo, they have the ability to develop into more specialized groups of cells or tissues (“Stem Cells: A Primer”). As of 2001, scientists could develop stem-cells into more than 110 different types of tissues, such as blood, brain or heart tissue (Robinson). If these cells could be so useful in the medical field, why are they not being used now? First of all, the research on stem-cells is still ongoing, though if given funding this research may have already been accomplished. According to Gary Stix, a writer for Scientific American, on November 5th, 2001, a company called Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) was the first to actually clone embryonic cells. This is not cloning in the most common sense, though. Stem-cells have previously been obtained from tissues of early stage embryos. With this experiment, scientists tried to use a new technique in making stem-cells so that real embryos need not be used. The scientists injected cells into eggs which had their nuclei removed, rather than making an actual copy of the cell. These cells developed, though the furthest development was from the one cell to eight cells, which is not enough to provide stem-cells (Lauritzen). This may not seem like much, but it is seen as a small step on the path to greater and more efficient use of these cells. So, one factor in the question of why do we not use stem-cells is that certain people do not approve of the use of embryonic tissue in research. There are many reasons, however, in which it could be seen as feasible to use embryonic stem-cells in the sake of medicine. For example people with heart disease or kidney failure could be cured with a relatively cheap operation. Today organ transplants are quite expensive and sometimes a matching donor can not even be found if a patient had ...

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D’Agnese, Joseph. “The Debate Over Stem Cells Gets Hot”.
Discover 23 (Jan. 2002): 1.

Draper, Eric. “Remarks by the President on Stem Cell Research.” Aug. 9 2001. Feb.10 2002.

“Improving the Nation’s Organ Transplantation System.” US Department of Health and Human Services. 18 Oct. 1999. 16 Feb. 2002.

Lauritzen, Paul. “Broadening the Debate on Cloning and Stem Cell Research.” America 186 (4 Feb. 2002): 22 Academic Search Elite. Ebscohost. University of Louisville Ekstrom Library. 6 Feb. 2002.

Lee, Jacqueline. “Embryonic Stem Cells: The End Doesn’t Justify the Means.” Claretian Publications Jan. 2002. Proquest. University of Louisville Ekstrom Library. 6 Feb. 2002.

Robinson, B.A. “What are Stem Cells?” 29 Aug.2001. Feb 16 2002.

Safire, William. “The Crimson Birthmark.” New York Times 21 Jan. 2002. Proquest. University of Louisville Ekstrom Library. 6 Feb. 2002.

“Stem Cells: A Primer” National Institutes of Health. May 2000. Feb. 16 2002.

Stix, Gary. “What Clones?” Scientific American 286 (Feb. 2002): 18. Academic Search Elite. Ebscohost. University of Louisville Ekstrom Library. 6 Feb. 2002.

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