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Stem Cell Research Ought to Be Unrestricted

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Stem Cell Research Ought to be Unrestricted

        Stem cell research and technology is developing quickly to create tissue, muscle and bone in order to create regenerative medicines, treating diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. But what follows stem cell research is its ethical controversy. When does human life truly begin? Is a human embryo equivalent to a human child? Does a cure for countless diseased people vindicate the destruction of a single embryo? Although this research raises ethical concerns, it should have zero restrictions due to the opportunities in medical advancements as well as the cures that could be discovered for diseases. These cells are so much more complex than anything we could dream of creating. Stem cells are an undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism that can create an infinite number of cells of the same type, and from which other kinds of cell arise by differentiation.  Stem cells also work as repair systems for the body (2016). And this is only the beginning of what we will be able to do if we tweak the current restrictions we have on stem cell research today. All you must do is imagine waking up from a terrible accident, paralyzed from the neck down. Do you really think you would ever be the same again?  What if the only thing standing in between you and a normal life again was someone’s opinionated morals?

The Research of stem cells is very interesting. Stem cells work as an internal repair system in the body and have two characteristics that differ them from other cell types. One being they are unspecialized and are able to renew themselves using cell division. And the second characteristic, under specific conditions, the cells can be made to become certain tissue or organ cells with special functions. There are also 3 different types of stem cells. There are embryonic, adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells have similarities as well as differences. These cells are undifferentiated but they all have specific limitations for what cells. Embryonic stem cells can become any of the 200 plus cell types in your body while adult stem cells are multipotent which means they are more restricted to the cells they can become. Embryonic stem cells are also a lot easier to culture. Contrary to adult stem cells which are located in mature tissues in much smaller numbers. Furthermore, adult stem cells are less likely to be rejected by the body. Specifically, when the adult stem cells are form the person they are being injected into. Embryonic stem cells on the other hand, have a higher chance of being rejected by the body (Basics, 2017).

The third type of stem cells, induced pluripotent cells are a relatively new technology that holds much promise when talking about drug development and modeling diseases. Essentially, they are adult stem cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to assimilate the pluripotent functionality of embryonic stem cells. They are brought to this state by expressing genes important to define the properties of embryonic stem cells. And because of these cells being adult stem cells. The chance of them being rejected by the body are slim (Basics, 2017). The research going into this technology will lead to new drug development, modeling diseases and even be used to repair damaged tissue.

Stem cell research can be utilized to treat and even help cure several injuries and diseases. Just to name a few, there are heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, spinal cord injuries, and retinal diseases (Hyun, 2013). The goal when using stem cells to treat heart disease is to replace all of the damaged heart tissue and eventually have it all replaced with healthy cells. There have been experiments with mice that has suggested that when adult stem cells derived from tissues that were not from the heart were transplanted into a damaged heart, the cells were still able to bring about healthy heart muscle cells (Hyun, 2013). With diabetes, the aim is to essentially turn stem cells into cells that sense glucose and secrete insulin. These diseases could potentially be treated and even cured thanks to the innovations we are making with stem cell research.

Figure 1 below illustrates an Osteoarthritis treatment. Osteoarthritis is a very common condition of the joints. It can affect any joint but typically occurs in the knees, hips or neck. In OA, the cartilage breaks down and causes pain swelling and problems moving the joint. This specific treatment is designed to create new cartilage cells for these degrading joints. And even in this treatment no embryonic pluripotent stem cells were used. Not all stem cell therapy uses embryonic stem cells. You see this sort of treatment is a much more pleasant alternative to taking pill after pill. They typical person would take drugs such as Acetaminophen for pain, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain, swelling, and fever. Other drugs include steroid shots straight to the joint, and even opioids (n.d.). All these bottles of pills in someone’s cabinet can be decreased to the help of this stem cell research.

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