Stem cell research
This is a medical health research paper on stem cell research. It will concentrate on the state of California. This is a research paper on the pro-argument paper on stem cell research on the level of the State. It should address all the issues as to the benefits of stem cell research. It should begin with an opening broad statement on the potential benefits and then lead into the arguments for continuing stem cell research, discussing in particular the role of the state.
In your research paper discuss stem cell research. Be sure to include:
- A brief outline of "the basics" of stem cell research
- An account of the history of stem cell research from its first use in bone transplant therapy to Thomson's first demonstration of a capacity to grow embryonic stem cells in vitro in 1998
- Present an overview of what the substantive medical accomplishments of stem cell research have been to date
- Summarize the potential that stem cell research holds for medical advances
At the federal level, there is a statutory ban on cloning, but only an articulated policy regarding the funding of stem cell research in specified circumstances. At the state level, however, there are a variety of statutes that prohibit or regulate fetal research, with stem cell research generally considered to fall under the scope of these statutes. The general trend in the law is towards greater acceptance of stem cell research as evidenced by judicial findings that some state statutes are unconstitutional and the passage of new state laws that specifically allow stem cell research. Because of the high potential value of stem cell research for the development of treatments for chronic illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and diabetes, the federal and state governments should adopt specific policies that encourage such research while striking a balance with competing religious and ethical interests.
In an organism some cells have greater replicative possibilities than do others. This differential in replicative capacity has two dimensions:
- The number of cell division cycles, i.e. the number of generations which a cell of a given type can produce before ceasing to divide into daughter cells;
- The ability of some cells to produce daughter cells that mimic their own type only while other cells can reproduce their own type plus one or more cells of entirely different types.
With respect to number of cell cycles, most cells making up an adult organism usually do not divide at all, a fact that accounts for many of the phenomena associated with senescence. Stem cells, however, most commonly-but not exclusively-found in bone marrow cells, skin cells, embryos, and intestinal cells-have the capacity to divide almost indefinitely. Moreover, stem cells have the ability to divide in such a way as to produce daughter cells that have a different morphology-and hence fulfill a different function in the organism-than does the parent cell; stem cells both replicate the parent and produce offspring that are more specialized than the parent. Some stem cells are unipotent; they produce one like offspring and one different offspring. Some stem cells have a capacity to produce two or more types of offspring in addition to duplicating the original stem cell; these are pluripotent. With respect to the latter, an example has been found in the skin cells of mice, stem cells known as skin derived precursors (SKPs) which not only yield SKPs, but also cells muscle, fat, and neural cells. In some of the higher life forms, such as mammals, the replicative endowment of the blastomere, the undifferentiated cell resulting from the separation of an activated egg, is such that the term totipotent applies to it, i.e., it has a capacity to develop all cells that are necessary to carry the organism through gestation and all cells necessary for the development of that organism.
Stem cells can be grown in vitro and this means that they are a potential source for billions of genetically identical specialized cells which can be used in bioengineering research, the hope being that by either producing tissue samples made up of these cells, or by manipulating the genes of these cells, medically useful outcomes will accrue.
Of particular potential efficacy in medical research are the human embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells generally are pluripotent and are considered to have a "remarkable plasticity" with respect to their being subject to manipulation in vitro. In the embryo stage of development all tissues and organs, including the brain and other parts of the nervous system, produce stem cells, something they either do not do, or do minimally, in the adult organism. Depending on the growth factors to which they are exposed, embryonic stem cells can be induced to produce a variety of cell types that have the characteristics which such cells, as part of tissues, manifest in vivo. Since stem cells are almost completely absent in some cell forms-neural cells being one-embryonic stem cells which can produce neural cells have an obvious value in creating cultures of neural cells, cultures which may be used to devise medical therapies designed to correct neural damage.
The advantage for researchers of having a plentiful supply of stem cell samples-both adult and embryonic-with which to work are manifold. Not only is there the potential for the creation of cells that could be used to correct medical conditions, but there is also a huge potential for the development of therapies based on genetic manipulation of stem cells. The injection of "tailor made" genes into enucleated cells holds the potential to correct the gentotypes of those with dysfunctional genetic material; such techniques could cure a variety of heritable disorders such as hemophilia and diabetes.
The need for researchers to have access to stem cells taken from human embryos has created political controversy. We do not deal with that in this paper. We note that to date there exists a potential source of human embryos that has been brought into existence by assisted reproduction technology, a technology that has resulted in the creation of up to a million "leftover embryos" derived from hormonal treatment of women who have made use of this technology. These, however, are not completely satisfactory as specimens.
The potential therapies that might flow out of stem cell research-therapies utilizing both adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells--would seem to be nearly infinite in number.
Tissue regeneration, for example, might make it possible to treat spinal cord injuries in new ways, ways that would overcome the fact-mentioned above-that neural cells do not tend to replicate. This hope was one that the late actor Christopher Reeve used as a platform for his activism. Cardiomyopathy treatments regenerating the cells that make up the pumping muscles of the heart may also be possible using stem cells and such treatments would be obviously much more attractive than heart transplants if they could be perfected. Liver failure and kidney failure using tissue regeneration may also be in the offing.
There is also a far-reaching potential for cancer and immunodeficiency treatments using stem cells as part of a genetics-based approach to curing these diseases. This route lies through the use of embryonic stem cells derived from a patient, removed from a patient, genetically "corrected" in vitro, and then reinjected into the patient. It may be the case that all genetic diseases based on a defect in a single gene may eventually be treated by means of embryonic stem cell derived therapies.
The potential medical applications of stem cell therapy, particularly embryonic stem cell therapy, would appear to be endless and, once more, this fact is emphasized by those hoping to overcome political opposition to stem cell research. In conclusion we have discussed the basics of stem cell research, given an outline of the history of this technology, briefly discussed medical applications of this technology that are now in use, and discussed the enormous potential that stem cell research has in the field of medicine. With respect to the last, it must be said that stem cell research may in time come to be regarded as a far reaching paradigm shift, a revolution in medical science comparable to the discovery of sepsis or the molecular basis of life. While we have herein avoided the political controversy surrounding stem cell research, this student would like to express the conviction that stem cell research is too rich in potential medical