Difference between revisions of "Human embryos in medical research"

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'''Embryonic stem cell''' research is the utilization of [[stem cells|stem cells]] from [[embyro]]s which can then be grown laboratory culture and produce specialized cells supposedly to treat [[disease]]s or used for research purposes. A common source of such cells is discarded embryos at [[fertility clinic]]s. The use of embryonic stem cells in medicine has met with some controversy, particularly from the [[pro-life]] movement that is concerned about the destruction of embryos that they believe constitute human lives.<ref>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072900158.html</ref>
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{{merge|Embryonic stem cells}}
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'''Embryonic stem cell''' research is the utilization of [[stem cells]] from [[embryo]]s which can then be grown in a laboratory culture and produce specialized cells to treat [[disease]]s or used for research purposes. The most common source of such cells is discarded embryos at [[fertility clinic]]s - the process of [[IVF]] typically produces two or three 'leftover' embryos for each treatment, which are usually discarded. The use of embryonic stem cells in medicine has met with some controversy, particularly from the [[pro-life]] movement that is concerned about the destruction of embryos that they believe constitute human life.<ref>https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072900158.html</ref>
  
Adult stem cell research is similar except it does not use or destroyed embryos, and instead is based on stem cells that can be taken from adults. These cells so far have proven less potent than those harvested from discarded embryos, but they do not raise the associated [[ethics|ethical]] dillemas.<ref>http://www.isscr.org/science/faq.htm</ref>
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'''Adult stem cell''' research is similar except it does not use destroyed embryos, and instead is based on stem cells that can be taken from adults. These cells are less versatile than those harvested from discarded embryos, but they do not raise the associated [[ethics|ethical]] dilemmas. Unfortunately, adult embryonic stem cells are of little value to science as a whole.
  
== Arguments for and Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research ==
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The primary reason for wanting to use embryonic stem cells is that they are capable of producing any type of tissue in the body.  Thus, theoretically, embryonic stem cell treatments offer far greater potential than adult cells - while both are capable of repairing some damage, embryonic cells could go so far as to replace entire organs. Conversely though, the greater flexibility of embryonic cells also makes them more difficult to control. A major obstacle to their use in humans is a tendency to form tumors.{{fact}} Much research is being carried out to better understand the cellular processes which cause this.
  
A variety of arguments are used both for and against embryonic stem cell research. Some proponents argue that the embryos do not constitute human lives or that even if they do since the embryos would be destroyed anyways and thus it makes sense to use the embryos.<ref>http://www.spinneypress.com.au/178_book_desc.html</ref>. These arguments have been accepted by some [[Christian]] groups and by many [[Jewish]] groups, even Orthodox ones.<ref>http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/stemcellres.html</ref>.
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*President Bush's refusal of [[federal funding]] for new embryonic stem cell lines didn't halt major stem-cell advances, any more than the prohibition against life-threatening research on human subjects, such as the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, stopped the advance of medical treatments. [http://www.opinionjournal.com/federation/feature/?id=110010915 Trading Places] - Will the secular left soon attack the religious right for being pro-science? - Joseph Bottum
  
Opponents to such research have argued that such embryos are human lives with the full rights of humans and that even if they are not human lives the slippery slope is too great. Furthermore, they argue that the sanctity of human life is so great that even the destruction of such embryos for research is not permissible even when they would be destroyed anyways. Opponents have also argued that the potential of embryonic stem cells have been exaggerated and that more research must be done with cord and adult stem cells.<ref>http://www.americancatholic.org/News/StemCell/</ref>, <ref>http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,31748,00.html</ref>,
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*On March 9, 2007 Barack Obama repealed President Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.<ref>https://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=441206</ref> This was a campaign promise and leads to the expectation that he will be one of the most pro-choice Presidents in U.S. history.<ref>http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/choice-action-center/us-gov/congressional-record-on-choice/illinois.html</ref>
<ref>http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/07/18/D8IUKSRO0.html</ref>.
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An alternative approach would be to use parthenogenesis, the term that's applied to an egg that activates spontaneously on its own. It is common for eggs to activate and often form cysts or benign tumors in the ovary. When the activated eggs begin to divide, they look like early embryos and form blastocysts with stem cells inside. A young woman with Type 1 [[diabetes]] could donate her eggs, which could be activated in the laboratory without being fertilized. Her own stem cells, gathered when the eggs develop to the blastocyst stage, could be used to treat her Type 1 diabetes.
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==Expectation and Potential ==
  
Stem cells developed from an unfertilized monkey egg that went through parthenogenesis are being used to treat [[Parkinson's disease]] in [[monkey]]s. This line has proven to be as robust as stem cells from human eggs.
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Jeremy Pearce of the ''New York Times'' wrote:
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*Dr. [[Ira B. Black]], chairman of the neurosciences and cell biology department of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, described the potential of all stem-cell research as threefold. He said the expectation in the laboratory was for such cells to revive damaged and dead cells; to act as vehicle cells in introducing [[gene therapy]]; and, finally, to rally and harness the [[human body]]'s own existing stem cells.
  
One of the reasons this line of research has not been pursued is that in the Dickey Amendment that was put in place by [[Congress]] in 1996, parthenogenesis was specifically included with the rest of embryo research, so scientists cannot get federal funding to do work even on unfertilized human eggs.  
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*The end goal would be to replace [[brain cells]] lost to [[Alzheimer's]], repair injured nerve cells causing [[paralysis]] and treat [[cancers]], malfunctioning [[organs]] and other now-irreparable conditions.
<ref>http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3209/04-alternative.html</ref>
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*To Dr. Black, the use of embryonic cells ''fundamentally constitutes the gold standard'' in medical research because of their purity and versatility. But he cautioned: ''This is a very young field. Our areas of ignorance are far greater than our areas of knowledge.'' [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E3DD1739F93BA25752C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print]
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==Inducible Pluripotent Stem Cells==
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Research in 2006 has facilitated the conversion of human adult somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells, namely possessing an ability to differentiate into many types of tissue. (Unlike embryonic stem cells from blastocysts, however, IPSCs are not totipotent.) By forcing the expression of certain genes, via the activation of many transcription factors (such as tetramer and hexamer TFs), using a particular medium (e.g. HIF and LIF), pluripotent stem cells can be generated. This research has great potential on account of its ability to resolve the dilemma surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells.
  
 
== References ==
 
== References ==
 
<references/>
 
<references/>
  
[[category:science]]
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[[Category:Biology]]
[[category:politics]]
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[[Category:Political Terms]]

Latest revision as of 11:32, 26 September 2018

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Embryonic stem cells. (Discuss)

Embryonic stem cell research is the utilization of stem cells from embryos which can then be grown in a laboratory culture and produce specialized cells to treat diseases or used for research purposes. The most common source of such cells is discarded embryos at fertility clinics - the process of IVF typically produces two or three 'leftover' embryos for each treatment, which are usually discarded. The use of embryonic stem cells in medicine has met with some controversy, particularly from the pro-life movement that is concerned about the destruction of embryos that they believe constitute human life.[1]

Adult stem cell research is similar except it does not use destroyed embryos, and instead is based on stem cells that can be taken from adults. These cells are less versatile than those harvested from discarded embryos, but they do not raise the associated ethical dilemmas. Unfortunately, adult embryonic stem cells are of little value to science as a whole.

The primary reason for wanting to use embryonic stem cells is that they are capable of producing any type of tissue in the body. Thus, theoretically, embryonic stem cell treatments offer far greater potential than adult cells - while both are capable of repairing some damage, embryonic cells could go so far as to replace entire organs. Conversely though, the greater flexibility of embryonic cells also makes them more difficult to control. A major obstacle to their use in humans is a tendency to form tumors.[Citation Needed] Much research is being carried out to better understand the cellular processes which cause this.

  • President Bush's refusal of federal funding for new embryonic stem cell lines didn't halt major stem-cell advances, any more than the prohibition against life-threatening research on human subjects, such as the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, stopped the advance of medical treatments. Trading Places - Will the secular left soon attack the religious right for being pro-science? - Joseph Bottum
  • On March 9, 2007 Barack Obama repealed President Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.[2] This was a campaign promise and leads to the expectation that he will be one of the most pro-choice Presidents in U.S. history.[3]

Expectation and Potential

Jeremy Pearce of the New York Times wrote:

  • Dr. Ira B. Black, chairman of the neurosciences and cell biology department of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, described the potential of all stem-cell research as threefold. He said the expectation in the laboratory was for such cells to revive damaged and dead cells; to act as vehicle cells in introducing gene therapy; and, finally, to rally and harness the human body's own existing stem cells.
  • To Dr. Black, the use of embryonic cells fundamentally constitutes the gold standard in medical research because of their purity and versatility. But he cautioned: This is a very young field. Our areas of ignorance are far greater than our areas of knowledge. [1]

Inducible Pluripotent Stem Cells

Research in 2006 has facilitated the conversion of human adult somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells, namely possessing an ability to differentiate into many types of tissue. (Unlike embryonic stem cells from blastocysts, however, IPSCs are not totipotent.) By forcing the expression of certain genes, via the activation of many transcription factors (such as tetramer and hexamer TFs), using a particular medium (e.g. HIF and LIF), pluripotent stem cells can be generated. This research has great potential on account of its ability to resolve the dilemma surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells.

References

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072900158.html
  2. https://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=441206
  3. http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/choice-action-center/us-gov/congressional-record-on-choice/illinois.html