Stem Cell Research| Why is it controversial? | Jessica Moss, Sabrina Sherrod, Bridget Sellers, Norlisha Taylor and Souriya Soukhaphanith| Contents Introduction (Background Information) (Jessica Moss)4 Historical Development and Context, factors that drove the technology (Sabrina Sherrod)5 Stem Cell Legislation(Jessica Moss)8 Political Issues (Bridget Sellers)9 Social and Psychological Issues (Norlisha Taylor)12 Moral and Ethical Issues (Souriya Soukhaphanith)14 Environmental Issues (Jessica Moss)16 The Media Influences (Norlisha Taylor)17
Conclusion18 References19 Abstract: Understanding what stem cell research is and how it can affect the future is important to understand while examining the controversy surrounding stem cells. Stem cell research is a process of studying the division of cells that can be used to cure diseases and illnesses and even fix tissues within the body.
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Biomedical technology refers to the combination of engineering and technology to solve medical problems involving humans, normally with the design and use of medical equipment that is used to diagnose as well as treat diseases. Under biomedical technology certain technologies and sciences are emerging such as genetic engineering, body implants, life extension and stem cell research and treatments. Among those sciences, stem cell treatment is a widely known procedure that is becoming commonly debatable across the United States.
Stem cell research is also considered controversial along with the stem cell treatments. Using biomedical technology, stem cell research and treatment has become a scrutinized science because of the history, procedure, and issues regarding stem cells and how they are obtained and the risks that they involve. (Health, 2009) Stem cells are cells that can be developed into many different cells in the human body. There are three different stem cells that are the most common: embryonic, fetal and adult stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells are taken from early embryos. Fetal stem cells come from a fetus. The fetus must be approximately ten weeks of gestation. Lastly, adult stem cells are cells that come from tissue that can replace tissues that die or can replace a tissue after an injury; examples include bone marrow, skin or muscle. (Research) The topic is a controversial topic for several reasons. In order to achieve the cells, they are to be taken while in the early forming of a human embryo.
There are adult cells which can be used for stem cell research but the cells need to be unharmed and it is difficult to obtain them. It is easier and more beneficial to use the embryonic cells because they are easier to obtain, they are unharmed and unspecialized, and they can eventually form into one hundred and thirty different types of human tissue. These cells are extremely important to researchers. These cells could be the answer to several types of diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, or heart disease.
The stem cells could be a replacement type of cell to cure such diseases because they can be cloned to replicate different human tissues, since they can form into one hundred and thirty different types of tissues as stated before. Stem cells are easy to obtain if given the force but since research is still fresh, currently it is harder to achieve them. Right now, in order to obtain cells, they have to come from aborted pregnancies or they are from embryos created at in-vitro clinics. (Health, 009) Historical Development and Context, factors that drove the technology (Sabrina Sherrod) Stem cell research is a science that has many advocates such as scientists and patients who believe the embryonic cell research will lead the development of treatments and cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, muscular dystrophy and other diseases. In November of 1998, scientists reported that they had successfully isolated and cultured human embryonic stem cells—a feat which had eluded researchers for almost two decades.
This announcement kicked off an intense and unrelenting debate between those who approve of embryonic stem cell research and those who are opposed to it. On October 13th, 2001, scientists clone human embryos to make stem cells. Scientists at a private lab created a six-cell embryo by removing DNA from a human egg and injecting it with the DNA of a skin cell. It was the same process used to clone Dolly, the sheep. The company, Advanced Cell Technology, said the purpose was to produce genetically matched replacement cells for patients with a wide range of diseases.
On April 22nd, 2003, United States researchers found that baby teeth, the temporary teeth children begin to lose about age six, contain a rich supply of stem cells. The findings suggested stem cells from baby teeth behave more like stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood, which is another early developmental source. The team speculated they might have found an important and easy accessible source of stem cells to repair damaged teeth, induce bone regeneration and treat neural injury or diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. On June 15th, 2005, Dr.
Andras Nagy created Canada’s first embryonic stem cell lines from donated embryos. The embryos were no longer required for reproduction by couples undergoing fertility treatment. The research played a pivotal role in a discovery Nagy would make almost four years later: the creation of embryonic stem cells from human skin, a process that "reprograms" cells. (Sheila Whyte/CBC) On June 1st, 2006, Japanese researcher Shinya Yaminaka showed that only four particular genes are required to create what are called, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
The discovery opened the door to "reprogramming" existing cells to create stem cells without using human embryos. On August 23rd, 2006, United States biotech company, Advanced Cell Technology, said it had found a way to remove a single cell from a human embryo and spawn an embryonic stem cell line without destroying the embryo. With only one cell removed, the embryo retains its full potential for development. On November 16th, 2006, a study published online in the journal, Nature, found that stem cells worked remarkably well at easing symptoms of muscular dystrophy in dogs.
The U. S. Muscular Dystrophy Association called the finding the most exciting in eight years. The researchers cautioned that it's not clear whether the treatment would work in people. On January 1st, 2007, a team of United States researchers isolated stem cells from amniotic fluid and placental tissue, left over from routine prenatal tests, used to detect fetal abnormalities. April 27th, 2007, a team of Canadian researchers reported that they had converted normal human blood cells into leukemia stem cells, then transplanted them into lab mice and watched the disease unfold.
On June 6th, 2007, research reported by three different groups showed that normal skin cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic state, at least in mice. Before the discovery of the new technique, embryonic stem cells were created by implanting DNA into an egg, which would then grow to provide a supply of stem cells but to harvest them; the viable embryo would have to be destroyed. (Shinya Yamanaka/Associated Press) On November 30th, 2007, Shinya Yamanaka and Kazutoshi Takahashi reported they were able to produce pluripotent stem cells generated from mature human fibroblasts.
That meant, it is possible to produce stem cells from almost any other human cell. (Shinya Yamanaka/Associated Press) Between August and November of 2008, scientists had created stem cells for ten genetic disorders, this allowed researchers to analyze the diseases, which could speed up the efforts to find effective treatments. Doctors were also able to provide a female patient with a trachea transplant grown by seeding a donor organ with her own stem cells. This procedure paved the way for transplanting organs, reducing the possibility of rejection within the body, without the use of anti-rejection drugs.
In 2009, Canadian researchers generated embryonic-like stem cells from adult human tissue. The research was led by Dr. Andras Nagy of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada. (Sheila Whyte/CBC) Midway through 2009, a study showed that survival rates for individuals with acute myeloid leukemia could be improved through stem cell transplants. Factors that drove stem cell research are curing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries just to name a few. There are many different types of stem cells like human embryonic, adult and hematopoietic.
Human embryonic stem cells are primitive (undifferentiated) cells derived from a 5-day preimplantation embryo that is capable of dividing without differentiating for a prolonged period in culture and is known to develop into cells and tissues of the three primary germ layers. Adult stem cells are any other cells than gametes (egg or sperm); sometimes referred to as "adult" cells. Hematopoietic stem cells are stem cells that give rise to all red and white blood cells and platelets (National Institutes of Health, U. S.
Department of Health and Human Services, 2009). Stem Cell Legislation(Jessica Moss) There has always been controversy surrounding stem cell research and what about researching stem cells is legal. Legislation surrounding stem cell research started in 1974, where Congress implemented a ban on all federally funded fetal tissue research until there were guidelines set up by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. This committee was set up to protect human subjects during medical or scientific experiments.
In 1975, an Ethics Advisory Board was set up for fetal and tissue research that come from abortions. Unfortunately President Reagan did not support this board and their federally funded investigations into the safety of using human embryos developed in vitro for less than 14 days and in 1980, he did not renew the Ethics Advisory’s Board Charter. The disbanding of the EAB halted federal funding of human embryo research. Fast forward to the year 1994, President Clinton lifted the twenty-year moratorium on fetal tissue research by signing into law the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993.
With this Act, in vitro fertilization research could be sanctioned without the approval of the EAB but Clinton created the NIH Human Embryo Research panel to overlook the ethical issues of fetal and embryonic research. Throughout Clinton’s stay in office, he prohibited federal funding on research in the creation of human embryos used only for research purposes. Instead, federal funds could be used to research human pluripotent stem cells derived from frozen embryos that were created for infertility treatments.
While, President Bush was in office in 2001, he placed a ban on any federal funding for any research using stem cell lines derived after August 9th, 2001 but his policy did not affect any research in the private sector or any research conducted with state funding. [ (Council, 2010) ] In 2006, during President Bush’s second term, two similar bills representing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act were both vetoed by Bush. The first, Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 would have allowed federal funding cell research on new lines of stem cells taken from discarded human embryos used for fertility treatments.
The second, Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 was similar to the Act of 2005 but would have also amended the Public Health Service Act. President Bush vetoed both and an override barely passed. [ (Issues, 2012) ] In 2009, Barack Obama is sworn into office. One of his first accomplishments as President was on March 9th, 2009 when Obama reversed Bush’s Executive Order and lifted the ban of federal funding for research into stem cell lines created after 2001. [ (Alternative Press, 2009) ] "I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek.
No president can promise that. But I can promise that we will seek them actively, responsibly, and with the urgency required to make up for lost ground," "We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse and we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society. " [ (Alternative Press, 2009) ] Political Issues (Bridget Sellers)
Since stem cell research is covered with controversy about how it is or is not legal, the political issues surrounding stem cell research is widely spread. The biggest political issue surrounding stem cell research is the different views taken on by our Presidents over the past fifteen years. George H. W. Bush supported the idea of adult stem cell research but he did not support embryonic stem cell research which is why he vetoed both of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Acts. The only problem with George Bush’s opposition was that he never banned the private and state sectors from racticing this version of stem cell research. In 2004, California passed a stem cell research funding authorization by a 60/40 margin. This was a major breakthrough not only in the legislation aspect of stem cell research but also by showing that people supported this idea. This authorization allowed up to three billion dollars to be used in stem cell research. In 2009 when Obama campaigned for office, one of his major campaign dedications was to help advocate the use of federal funds in stem cell research within embryonic cells. In 2009, Obama lifted Bush’s ban as previously stated.
Executive Order 13505 stated that scientists should be able to use federal funding to research on human embryonic cells. Obama did set up limitations to the embryonic cell research. The President worked accordingly with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the NIH director to set ethical guidelines to be used in research. “Only the responsible, productive experiments with the potential to provide results valuable to humankind were to be performed. ” [ (Khokhar, 2010) ] As of 2012, with the new election coming up, stem cell research has once again found itself in the political issues realm.
Stem cell research is a hot topic button used in campaigns along with abortions and gay marriage. Like the controversy surrounding abortions and gay marriage, religion plays a major factor in people’s viewpoints about stem cell research. According to a poll done by CNN Opinion Research Group, when asked if you thought the federal government should or should not fund research using stem cells obtained from human embryos, fifty-five percent of the 1,000 Americans asked said the federal government should fund whereas, forty-one percent said they should not fund, four percent had no opinion. (Opinion Research Corporation, 2010) ] Federal funds are not the only source of funds for stem cell research. There are also private and state sectors who allow funds to research stem cells. The ban imposed and lifted mentioned little about what states could and could not fund. As mentioned above, California did pass a legislation allowing a significant amount of money to fund stem cell research. Some state laws have restricted the use of embryonic stem cells from some or all sources or specifically permit certain activities. State laws on stem cell research vary state-to-state.
The approach to stem cell research policy ranges from statutes in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. These statutes encourage embryonic stem cell research. The state of South Dakota strictly forbids research on embryos regardless of how it will help people in the long run. States that permit embryonic stem cell research have guidelines that scientists must follow and also must consent to all the requirements, approval and the review processes for every project. Legal and Economical Issues (Bridget Sellers)
Since there are different types of stem cells (embryonic, adult or induced), there are different lawsuits surrounding the idea of stem cell research. In 2001, a lawsuit was filed in federal court to cease federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. This lawsuit challenged the NIH guidelines for public funding of research using stem cells from human embryos. Nightlight Christian Adoptions (a non-profit adoption agency) as well as others made claims that the guidelines violate the legislative ban found that prohibits federal funding of research in which a human embryo is either destroyed or discarded.
The lawsuit was suspended in May 2001 while the President reviewed the NIH guidelines. The case is still pending. Another profound lawsuit regarding stem cells was the Thomson v. Thomson case. In May of 2001, Christopher Reeve (the actor) and seven other scientists filed a federal lawsuit claiming the Bush administration withheld federal funding for stem cell research illegally. The lawsuit claimed the Bush administration was delaying the development of therapies, causing harm, when they could be saving lives. (Duffy, 2002) ] A recent legal battle is firing up between a medical company Regenerative Sciences and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Regenerative Services is a medical company that created a procedure using their patients’ own stem cells to treat their orthopedic injuries. They are fighting the FDA because the FDA made a claim that human cells should be federally regulated as drugs. “We see this lawsuit as a 21st century civil rights issue that will define what control you have about the use of your own cells and tissue,” said Dr. Christopher Centeno, director of the Colorado clinic. (Koleva, 2012) ] Each of these lawsuits is just an example of how varied everyone’s opinions may be on stem cell research. These legal and economical issues are just one of the many reasons stem cell research is controversial. Social and Psychological Issues (Norlisha Taylor) Stem Cell research has had a big impact on people. Not only is it a hot topic amongst activists and scientists, it is also very emotional. Looking at stem cell research from a psychological standpoint will show how feelings on the subject can change from an intellectual decision to a heartfelt, emotional one.
People argue that stem cell research is wrong and unethical but a family member in need could instantly change the thought process and views on the subject. Dr. Jack Kessler found his passion for stem cell research when his daughter injured her spine. He made it his mission to use the research to find a way to repair those cells that were damaged. The need to make his daughter better motivated his studies. People still opposed and that led him to be an advocate for the issue by going out and speaking with people about the positive impact stem cell research could have.
His colleague Dr. Laurie Zoloth and he have made it their mission to educate the masses, going against the opinions of many including Catholic and Christian churches and even congress. "I was an activist before my daughter was hurt. What it did was change the intensity of my feeling. I was outraged as a scientist and a physician. But, of course, the outrage that I feel as a father, where I think that things are perhaps being done that are slowing the chance for my daughter having some sort of potential cure, is overwhelming.
And quite frankly, if I were anyone in this country who had someone ill with a heart attack or stroke or diabetes or spinal cord injury or Parkinson's disease Parkinson's disease or Parkinsonism, degenerative brain disorder first described by the English surgeon James Parkinson in 1817. When there is no known cause, the disease usually appears after age 40 and is referred to as Parkinson's disease. , I'd be outraged at the politics because it's getting in the way of potential therapies. " Kessler stated. (Henderson, 2008) Like so many other issues, the church has had a major impact on how stem cell research is perceived as well as received.
Many religious figures are against it because they feel it violates human rights, while scientists will say that it can only be performed before the fetus is considered human. In April, a forum was supposed to be held at the Vatican. Scientists were to come and speak about the positives stem cell research offers. The event was considered to be a crucial and highly affirmed. Unfortunately it was canceled due to lack of interest and sponsorship from participants. The opinion of the church and someone’s religion matters more to some people and unfortunately that brought most people to decline invitation. Academy officials couldn't immediately be reached about media reports that the speaker lineup irked scientists opposing embryonic research, while others declined invitations for fear of lack of open discussion”. (Associated, 2012) While the church may be against the idea of stem cell research whether it be adult cells or human embryonic; scientists and researchers are for stem cell research for several reasons. The idea of stem cell research is a gateway to new sciences. Not only can it open doors for many diseases and illnesses, it is a very profitable area of study.
Countries worldwide are joining forces into studying not only stem cell research but the whole biomedical field. Several Universities and Colleges have entire programs dedicated to the science. Most of the scientists who believe stem cell research can have a positive influence on the future, want to know more. Without the ability to research and being burdened by people’s own afflictions against the grain of their Churches, the future of technology will always be lacking. Moral and Ethical Issues (Souriya Soukhaphanith)
There are three main issues surrounding stem cell research that cause controversy. Those three include abortion, cloning and genetic engineering. Abortion is controversial topic to being with. To better understand the controversy surrounding abortion and stem cell research you must look at both viewpoints: For and Against. People against the abortion are against it for secular and non-secular reasons. There are certain areas of Christianity that says all human life is intended by God and with that being the basis of many chapters in the Bible, most people are against abortion.
One of the main non-secular reasons people are against abortion is because they say a fetus is human from the minute of conception. When speaking in terms of stem cell research relating to the issues of abortion, most people oppose the research being done on embryonic stem cells. The reasons most of these people do not support embryonic stem research because in order to extract the stem cells from embryos, the embryos die. The line between what is considered “human” is invisible. Is an embryo considered a human? [ (Stem Cell Research and Abortion, 2009) ]
Cloning is the process of creating an identical copy of something else whether it be food, an animal or a human being. There are a few methods that are preferred by scientists. Two of them are artificial embryo twinning and somatic cell nuclear transfer. Artificial embryo twinning is done by separating the early embryo into two cells and allowing the cell to divide and grow on its own. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is done by isolating a somatic cell, transferring the nucleus from the cell to an egg cell that has already had its nucleus removed.
The cell then will develop into an embryo which can then be placed into a surrogate. [ (Jones, 2000) ] Just one example of how cloning can be used in stem cell research would be the process of therapeutic cloning. Therapeutic cloning would be the process of using a cloned human embryo to create matching tissues for medical treatments. This implies that the embryos will be destroyed in the process, which is a concern for the people opposing cloning. (Jensen, 2008) Genetic Engineering is the process of taking genes and DNA from one species and putting them into another species. (Steinbrecher, 1998) ] One fear associated with genetic engineering is the idea that the scientists are playing the role of God. Some fear that the genetic modified food, which can be also called genetically modified organisms, can be hazardous to our health. Some of the concerns surrounding genetically modified organisms and the effects on an individual’s health. The article said that genetically modified organisms can create an antibiotic resistance, allergies, nutrition changes and even toxin formation. Another issue with genetic engineering is the fear that super organisms can be created, causing an unnatural balance among nature. Bioethics) The National Institution of Health has released guidelines for stem cell research in order to work around the controversial issues. In the article “NIH Releases Guidelines for Stem Cell Research”, these are the guidelines as follows. As long as certain conditions are met, the research of stem cells from embryos left over will be funded. Strict informed consent must be required. Donors cannot receive compensation/incentives for their embryos. Donors must decide to donate on their own. Donors must be presented with proper documentation that they were aware of all options for the embryos. NIH Releases Guideline for Stem Cell Research, 2009) Regulations introduced in various developed countries to ensure the ethical use of biomedical technology in addition to the use of systems to detect emerging diseases are some of the ways the government agencies around the world are trying to reduce the chance of having future biomedical catastrophies. Environmental Issues (Jessica Moss) While stem cell research is mainly used for the advancement of biomedical technology, curing diseases and mending illnesses, there are people who believe stem cell research can be used for negative reasons.
Since stem cell research involves cloning in certain stem cell procedures, one of the biggest concerns in people is the use of cloning for war. Many countries use their power negative such as North Korea and their threats using the weapons of mass destruction. Cloning human beings or even trying to clone certain health attributes could negative impact an individual’s environment. Stem cell research varies from country to country. Looking into different countries stem cell research policies can be quite profound.
In the United States, each state has its own legislation regarding stem cells. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and Rhode Island allow somatic nuclear transfer; Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire and Virginia prohibit SCNT but in-vitro research is allowed; Oklahoma only allows research using cell lines before a certain date; Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and South Dakota prohibit research using embryos or cell products derived from embryos.
Canada is a country where somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is prohibited but research using in-vitro embryos is permitted. Over in Europe, countries such as Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom allow SCNT. Countries such as Germany and Italy allow research only on cell lines before a certain date and countries such as Austria and Poland prohibit all stem cell research. Asia is probably the only country where stem cell research is permissive in most of the countries.
China, India, Japan, South Korea and even Australia all permit somatic nuclear transfer. (Group, 2006) The Media Influences (Norlisha Taylor) As biomedical technology and stem cell research creates controversy, as well as advancement in the technological and medical field, people are starting to realize what kind of impact this research can have on the world. There are several media outlets being influenced by stem cell research. The art world is one media outlet that has been majorly influenced by stem cell research.
The group Perceptions of Promise: Biotechnology, Society and Art brought together scholars and artists to create original artwork and essays accompanying the artwork which explores the legal, ethical and social issues associated with certain life sciences, mainly concerned with stem cell research. Perceptions of Promise says “Art has an important role to play in the discourse around biotechnology because it can offer unique articulations of the complex, polarized and often emotionally charged responses the public has towards technology. “Perceptions of Promise: Biotechnology, Society and Art offers viewers a compelling glimpse into a unique collaboration between scientists, scholars and artists, in a visually engaging exhibition that challenges viewers to consider positive and negative possibilities of biotechnology and stem cell research. ” [ (Promise, 2011) ] Another media outlet source impacted by stem cell research is the movie industry. Dr. Shelley Chawla wrote a book called “Hope. ” The book addressed the issues surrounding the embryonic stem cell controversy.
Chawla was tired of seeing his patients suffer. The book, which chronicles a senator who opposes stem cell research, who’s son is left a quadriplegic. In the book, the senator is pushed by his family to take his son to India where stem cell research is not prohibited. Chawla turned the book into a movie to get the message out there. He wants people to understand the pros of stem cell research. "The point of the movie is to put the whole issue in a personal perspective,'' All of these people saying no (to the research), what would they say if they need it someday? ' Chawla said. [ (Associated Press, 2008) ] Conclusion While looking at stem cell research, it is not hard for one to get confused. What is stem cell research? What are the pros? What are the cons? Why is it so controversial? Stem cell research is the process of taking an embryonic, fetal or adult stem cell and studying how the different cells can improve diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Embryonic, fetal and adult stem cells or the most common stem cells used in the research.
Not only can stem cell research help cure diseases but the cells can also be used to fix tissues within the body as well. Stem cell research has become a scrutinized science because of its history, how scientists have obtained the stem cells and because of the political, legal, economical and environmental issues surrounding stem cell research. Many people oppose stem cell research because they relate it to abortion. People also are afraid of the idea of cloning and genetically modified food. There is a huge separation between the state and federal take on stem cell research.
As of 2012, there is federal funded stem cell research taking place; only a few states allow all methods of stem cell research; there are also some states that prohibit any kind of stem cell research. Everyone has a different opinion of stem cell research but one fact remains. If these stem cells can help cure many diseases and illnesses that could affect your loved ones, wouldn’t you want the research to be done? References Alternative Press. (2009, March 9). Obama reverses Bush-era stem cell policy. Retrieved from http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/29586269#. T9OqYlLvhI4 Associated. (2012, March 27).
Vatican Cancels Stem Cell Forum. Retrieved from http://news. yahoo. com/vatican-cancels-stem-cell-forum-185541731. html Associated Press. (2008, June 8). Cloning and Stem Cells. Retrieved from Doctor Writes Movie About Stem Cell Research: http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/25045061/ns/health-cloning_and_stem_cells/t/doctor-writes-movie-about-stem-cell-research/#. T9RER1LvhI4 Bioethics, N. C. (n. d. ). Genetically Modified Crops:The Ethical and Social Issues. Retrieved from http://www. scribd. com/doc/4548056/Genetically-Modified-Food-ethical-social-problems Council, N. R. (2010)
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