Stem Cells: EXPOSED!
By: Maddy Gildersleeve
Stem cells are a scientific advancement that should be researched and investigated to the fullest extent. It could benefit millions of people if stems cells are able to achieve what scientists think they can. Scientists should be able to use any resources available to attain these stem cells.
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People with diseases such as cancer or diabetes could have the gene that gives their body that disease in their cells. When cells divide to make more cells that gene is passed on. This is an ongoing cycle that scientists haven’t found a 100% successful cure for yet. Stem cells could be the cure for those diseases. How, you say? A stem cell is a cell made early in the development of an organism that gives rise to all the specialized cells in the body. A stem cell could turn into a blood, heart or muscle cell or any of the other 200 plus specialty cells. Since stem cells are unspecialized they can turn into any kind of cell, or be manipulated by scientists into anything. Scientists could create a stem cell that they could be placed into a person with diabetes that essentially replaces or kills all of the diabetic cells. This would cure the person. It would be a natural healing process because the person would be healed with their own stem cells. That’s a good thing because there are so many treatments out there that might save the patient from one illness but then in the process create another. Like radiation for cancer, it might make the cancer better, but it also causes them physical pain. Stem cells would cure millions of people of their diseases, letting them live healthy and long lives. No matter how controversial the retrieval of stem cells is people need to realize this could save people’s lives. Scientists would like to do that but first they need stem cells to research to be able to figure this science out.
There are two main kinds of stem cells, adult stem and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are found in humans when they are a fully grown. These stem cells are in the body to replace specific kinds of cells that are destroyed through death, injury or disease. These cells are ideal to use because there is no controversy over obtaining these stem cells. But adult stem cells are already trained to carry out certain functions and are not as easily manipulated as the second type of stem cell: embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells come from a fertilized egg that developes into two identical cells. Those two cells divide dozens upon dozens of times and eventually create an embryo. In several days the embryo contains a cluster of cells that scientists call embryonic stem cells. For scientists to get access to the stem cells inside of the embryo they have to destroy the embryo. Some people believe embryos are human beings and that it is immoral to destroy an embryo. They say it’s a human being because the sperm and egg were alive so what they create must be alive. But as stem cell scientist Douglas Melton asks “Why does society accept the freezing of embryos but not the freezing of 6 year olds?” I agree with Melton, if people think that an embryo is a living human then why don’t we treat people like we treat embryos by freezing them. Embryos are not alive; they do not fulfill the scientific definition of being alive, which is: a living organism must be able to move, breathe, have at least one sense, grow, reproduce, excrete waste, and eat all by itself.
In conclusion embryonic cells are not alive, so retrieving stem cells from them is not inhumane; in fact it could save millions of people that are technically alive. Stem cell research is a great science that should be pursued to be able to save lives.
 Opposing Viewpoints Series. Stem Cells. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2007.
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 The Moral Status of the Human Embryo by Dr. Paul R. Boehlke, Professor of Biology, October 2001. http://www.charis.wlc.edu/publications/charis_spring02/boehlke.pdf (accessed February 7, 2011)
 Park, Alice. “The Quest Resumes” Time Magazine. February 9, 2009 sec. science pg 40.
 Definitions: Classic Properties of Living Organism from Penguin Dictionary of Biology 1994. http://www.mcb.uct.ac.za/tutorial/definitions.htm#Life (accessed February 7, 2011)