Stem Cell Research

Analiese Gerald & Natalie Herklotz

What is Stem Cell Research?

A stem cell is a special cell that when divided the new cells have the ability to either become the same cell or another cell with a different specialization. This gives them the potential to cure diseases and help with other medical problems because new stem cells can take the place of other damaged or absent cells.

There are two types that are being researched:

Adult Stem Cells:

  • found in tissues or organs, believed to be able to create most of the specialized cells in that tissue or organ
  • potential treatments include regenerating bones, repairing damaged heart muscle, developing insulin-producing cells for type 1 diabetics

Embryonic Stem Cells:

  • derived from embryos fertilized by in vitro fertilization (embryo must be destroyed in order to research) and are "master cells" that can divide into any cell of the body
  • potential treatments are endless including curing many diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
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The Controversy

Most of the controversy surrounding stem cell research is over embryonic stem cells because the embryo must be destroyed in order to complete research. Depending on when one considers life to start, this could be considered as destroying or killing a human life.


Political controversies- most conservatives are are against research while liberals are for it, expanding research would likely cause more political debate than already exists

Ex. Obama ends Bush's federal funding research ban and expands research to

Religious controversies- many religions (Christianity, especially Catholicism, for example) fight against the destruction of an embryo because its goes against religious morals or murder (if they consider an embryo life form)

This is not unlike pro-life and pro-choice debates

Positive medical effects- cure diseases, further understand birth defects

Negative medical risks- research still in early stages so many methods not proven, could worsen some diseases such as in the case of cancer

The Essential Question: Is destroying an embryo worth potential medical breakthroughs?

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Should Scientists Be Free to Continue Stem Cell Research?

We believe that scientists should be able to continue research on stem cells but with some conditions.

As far as adult stem cell research, this should be able to be continued because taking stem cells from tissue and organs is not terribly harmful and could result in great medical breakthroughs that would benefit all of society.

Embryonic stem cell research is more complicated. Destroying an embryo is wrong because that is killing a human life. However, since embryonic research could result in medical discoveries valuable for everyone, a limited amount of research should be allowed to continue as long as it follows some conditions:

Research is conducted with previously started cell lines (about 1,000 currently)
Research is conducted with an embryo that is destined for destruction regardless

These views are in sync with President Obama's new legislation regarding federal funding of stem cell research.

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Should Their Work Be Publicized?

When it comes to medical research in general new discoveries should be publicized. This keeps the public informed at possible medical treatments that they could use and also helps prevent unethical medical research from happening such as stem cell research.

Like other medical information, stem cell research information should be open to the public. Because the public knows, protests and public opinion keeps unethical research from being done, like embryonic research that doesn't meet the conditions of Obama's new rule. The public also has the right to know full details of any potential medical solutions that they themselves might in the future need.

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Works Cited

"Frequently Asked Questions." What Are Adult Stem Cells? [Stem Cell Information]. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Watson, Stephanie, and Ph.D. Craig Freudenrich. "How Stem Cells Work."HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

"Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

"Obama Lifts Stem Cell Research Ban, Sparking Discontent Amongst Pro-Life Advocates." Fordham Observer RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

"Cloning, Stem Cells Long Mired In Legislative Gridlock." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

"Stem Cell Research: A New Age Dawns in Healthcare." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.