Stem Cell Research | Teen Ink

Stem Cell Research

June 2, 2008
By Anonymous

Liberals believe that stem cell research will help find the cure of many illnesses, and they think the benefits trump any moral issues. Conservatives think the complete opposite of Liberals. Conservatives believe that stem cell research is unnecessary and that there are many alternatives that are equally as effective and might possibly produce the same results. The debate between Liberals and Conservatives has reached such proportions that it is now classified as being at the level of abortions debates. Even though stem cell research pushes the line of the moral standard of society, the benefits will help improve the well being of the medical society. (Pragmatic Americans Liberal and Conservative on Social Issues)

Stem cells are cells that have the ability to develop and take form and characteristics of many different types of cells. Stem cells are able to repair the body because they have no limit to how many times they can divide, and because of this, they can replenish other body cells that are dying for as long as the individual is alive. When a daughter cell is formed, when a stem cell splits and forms two new, identical, cells, the daughter cell can either remain a stem cell or become a more specialized type of cell such as a muscle cell, red blood cells, and brain cells. Those are the three unique properties of every kind of stem cell. They are unspecialized, which means they don’t serve a specific function, they are able to divide and renew themselves for a long period of time, and they can give rise to specialized cells, cells that serve a certain function. (Stem Cell Basics)

There are three different classifications of stem cells, totipotent, multipotent, and pluripotent. These three classes describe the amount of specialized cells stem cells can give rise to. Totipotent means the stem cell can give rise to almost all specialized cells in the body. Stem cells that give rise to only a small amount of specialized cells are multipotent. Pluripotent means a stem cell can give rise to any specialized cell in the body except for those that are needed to develop a fetus. (Stem Cell Basics)

Stem cells are derived from five different locations in the body. The most effective, and controversial, of them all are the human embryonic stem cells. They are the only pluripotent stem cells which is why they are researchers’ favorite type. They have raised so much controversy because they require the destruction of a human embryo. From the human embryo, scientists use the stem cells to create a stem cell line. Once a stem cell line has been created, it is nearly impossible to destroy it. The lines are created so scientists have more stem cells to work with and they don’t have to go through the rigorous process of isolating stem cells to use. (Stem Cell Basics)

Fetal stem cells are originated from the gonads of aborted fetuses. They are multipotent and require the abortion of several weeks old fetuses. Umbilical chord stem cells are acquired from the blood of the umbilical chords of fetuses. (Adult Stem Cells) There are two classes found in the blood - mulitpotent and pluripotent. The problem with this type of stem cell is that there is a low frequency of stem cells. Placenta derived stem cells are from the placenta of newborns and these also have a low frequency, although it is higher than umbilical chord stem cells. These are also multipotent and pluripotent. (Stem Cell Basics)

Adult stem cells have recently generated a lot of excitement from researchers because they have just found adult stem cells in many more tissues then they thought possible. Because of this, researchers believe that adult stem cells could be used in transplants. Some types of adult stem cells can differentiate into many different types of cells which, if it can be controlled in a laboratory, could help cure many serious, but common, diseases. The only downfall of adult stem cells is that there are very few of them in the tissue. Because of this, human embryonic stem cells are the most popular among researchers. (Adult Stem Cells)

Human embryonic stem cells are the best type, though they raise the most controversy. The ones who oppose this research most are the Church and anti-abortion advocates. They see the embryos as human beings and that using them to get stem cells is “killing” them. They don’t care that using these embryos that have already been destroyed, or soon will be, could help lead to the cure of many illnesses and could potentially save millions of lives. Many also fear that the need fro a steady stream of stem cells could cause researchers to start cloning existing stem cells. Researchers and advocates of stem cell research have said in return that they are opposed to cloning and that it would never come to that. (Unknown Source)

“Considering these embryos have no mission in life except to more than likely be thrown into the trash, yes, it is morally acceptable to conduct medical research involving stem cells. Humans who are born usually have some sort of mission in life and want to contribute something before they die. Let these embryos - who would feel the same way if they were born but never will be - contribute something, too, before they are left in a dumpster somewhere” (Karen Guiffre) (Unknown Source)

“Not only is it morally acceptable, it is morally imperative. Stem cells are not a person, but a collection of undifferentiated cells that may become any organ of our body. If there is any hope that research with these cells can be used to improve the lives of people, than our society would be delinquent if we did not support it.” (Herbert M. Gellar) (Unknown Source)

Both of these quotes are in favor of stem cell research, but they have a different outlook on their reasoning for allowing stem cell research. Karen thinks of them as unborn human beings, ones that will never become actual humans, and thinks that they should be given a chance to make a difference in their “lives”. On the other hand, Herbert sees them as a clump of cells and that we should use them to help better the lives of many others. No matter the reasoning behind being for stem cell research, many people are for it because they think the moral issues are not that grand in retrospect to the outcome of the research. Ten, maybe five years from now, researchers might be able to use stem cells to help cure Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and many other life-threatening illnesses that could save millions of people. The likeliness of this happening, though, is very minimal because of the small amount of support the government is giving researchers. The government has made laws that greatly restrict researching, and it is very puzzling to many people. Many believe that stem cells are the answer to many diseases and will go to great lengths to do anything to help the research go quicker. (Unknown Source)

Works Cited
Kadereit, Suzanne. "Adult Stem Cells." 31 Mar. 2005. 23 May. 2008.

"Pragmatic Americans Liberal and Conservative on Social Issues." 3 Aug. 2006. 23 May. 2008.

"Stem Cell Basics." 20 Dec. 2006. 23 May. 2008.

“Unknown Source”

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

on Mar. 2 2010 at 4:03 pm
stem cell research is a good idea, but will probably not cure cancer. yes, i am a conservative.