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The Potential Use Of Embryonic Stem Cells

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Stem cells are unspecialised cells that are able to grow into many types of cells found in the body. They can be found within human embryos that are a few days old and have not developed yet, these are called embryonic stem cells. Stem cells can replace specialized cells that have been used up or damaged. We as developed humans still contain stem cells however this is within our bown marrow generating 100.000 million new blood cells that we need every day. These keep are body functioning, as well as needing stem cells to maintain our tissue and to develop are muscle according to our body – using self-renewal and differentiation. The stem cells that are particularly focused on in researd are the embryonic stem cells (ESC’s).

These cells have unlimited potential as they are pluripotent, allowing them to differentiate to any cell type in the body. ESCs were first developed in the lab in 1998. These stem cells are taken from a very early stage of an embryo, when it is a formation of about 200-300 cells. Future stem cell research has a large potential for the amount of diseases that it could help or even cure. This includes; Parkinsons and alzheimers disease, spinal cord injuries, strokes and many more. Some of the most serious medical conditions are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation however the main job of stem cells is to replenish and develop into cells that are needed to solve this.

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Another examples for the potential use of embryonic stem cells includes treating chronic heart disease. The regeneration of healthy heart muscle cells that are transplanted to the damaged heart, allows the tissue to become repopulated. New studies also indicate that it may be possible to direct these ESC’s to form insulin producing cells that can replace the cells in the pancreas for patients with type 1 diabetes. However there are many ethical viewpoints to consider. Within Buddhism there are 5 precepts that they live by, the first precept being, ‘to abstain from taking life’. Through the production of Embryonic stem cells, the 4-5 day old embryo is ‘destroyed’.

As well, within christianity, it is believed that god controls the production and destruction of life and again embryonic stem cell research goes against this. Other arguments against ESC’s include, there being ‘alternative ways to culture cells’. Stem can be retrieved from other places rather than from human embryos. However more research is being conducted to create more pluripotent cells and scientists are even attempting to have human skin cells to go back to the embryonic state. There are also many pros to why embryonic stem cell research should go ahead.

At the age the embryo is extracted, it has not developed a central nervous system, meaning it has no sense or feeling – there is no evidence that it can develop into a fetus. Organs within the human body are allowed to be donated to save others lives but embryos aren’t allowed. There is always a risk within donating an organ for the donors themselves, and if this lead to death it would be ‘unnatural’ as God did not control this destruction. And it could not be helped. So why can’t embryo’s be donated for research? Adding to this, embryos are never extracted without the mother’s consent.

Theses embryos are far from wasted due to the amount of lives it could potentially save. As well as the diseases it could cure that are listed above, ESC’s can also help the visually impaired and organ transplantation that currently takes time to find a suitable donor, making it more efficient. In my opinion, i believe that Embryonic stem cell research is acceptable. I think that giving up a potential life to benefit many patients that are suffering can add to even further research into cures. It is accepted to have abortions, even within religions (with certain restrictions), and rather than an embryo being wasted it could be used to develop this research.

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