Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Findings in Stem Cell Research

The debate for Stem Cell research has long been hotly contested in the United States political system. Stem cells are unique from other cells and are characterized by the ability to renew themselves which has the ability and potential to regrow any form of body tissue. Embryonic stem cells are the most efficient of these cells in that they are the building block for new life. The potential for the furthering of medicine is tremendous. Instead of individuals waiting on a long list for organ donors the organ could be specially made for them or severe burn victims being able to re-grow damaged skin cells and live an aesthetically normal life or even cure paralysis. The possibilities are endless. I believe that stem cells are the future of medicine and that many of the world’s health issues can be solved by mastering the use of these cells. Stem cells have enormous potential in health and medical research but to fully harness this potential, scientists are studying how stem cells transform, or differentiate, into the diverse range of specialize. Most of the controversy is surrounding the need to use embryos that have been aborted to study for scientific endeavors. Common sense would state that most individuals who are not in support of abortion will more often than not be opposed to stem cell research. Cells are extracted from embryos and used for the benefits of science. Ethical issues arise from this practice, but as science improves the process can become more efficient. Former President Bush was harshly opposed to stem cell research and as a result the science lost government backing in the United States. Currently, President Obama is in support of stem cell research so the science will continue.
Recent studies suggest that skin cells can be used to safely make stem cells. This can eliminate the need to use aborted embryos. “It is the first time that scientists have turned skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells -- which look and act like embryonic stem cells -- without having to use viruses in the process.” In the past iPS cells have been created using skin cells but viruses also had to be used in the process which is problematic because these cells are more prone to become cancerous in the process. Now that no viruses or embryos are required I believe the process will advance greatly under the current administration. Like I previously stated these cells have the potential to have an enormous impact on medicine and science and humanity as a whole.

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