Tamara Cleveland Communication Arts 102 Professor Dedo 11 August 2005 Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is human

embryonic stem cell research (hESC research) killing potential lives, to potentially save the lives of others? Should IVF clinics be allowed to destroy embryos by extracting stem cells from them? Should the law even allow these clinics to discard these live embryos? These are just a few of the questions that hESC research raises. The issue is really the killing. Embryos, by biological definition, are alive and capable of being implanted in wombs and developing into healthy babies. Since some people believe that life does not begin at conception, and some believe just the opposite, quintessential solutions to the conflicts encountered with hESC would have to eliminate the “life” issue altogether. The following four solutions were recently proposed during a hearing of the United States Senate, as reported in USA Today. All of these potential solutions propose a way to perform hESC research, but without destroying embryos in the process. These were ideas of the President’s Council on Bioethics (Vergano). 1) There are some embryos that simply stop growing within days of their conception. Stem cells in these embryos are still “alive,” but the embryo itself has already died for unknown reasons. Scientists can extract viable stem cells from these embryos and begin a line for them. 2) It is possible for scientists to take a single cell from the morula and differentiate that cell into a full stem cell line. The embryo would not be harmed in the process. Across America, this has been done one thousand times yearly, but has not produced a line as of today. This method is called “pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD),” because it is used to diagnose medical conditions, even though it has not been perfected enough to create stem cell lines. 3) Scientists can use “altered embryos” to retrieve stem cells. These embryos could never develop into viable fetuses because their genes are too mutated to allow them to fully form. 4) The least likely solution is to get adult stem cells and specialize them so that they act as if they were embryonic stem cells. This option is more tedious than the previous three. All of these solutions have their shortcomings; if they did not, they would already be widely practiced methods of hESC research. The first solution was proposed by Drs. Donald Landry and Howard Zucker. The controversy over hESC research could be settled with this option, as long we can agree on when these embryos have technically died. Dr. Landry proposed that the embryos are dead when “cell division is irreversibly arrested.” The problem with his statement is that frozen embryos in IVF clinics are “irreversible arrested” in that sense. As doctors take

organs from patients after they have just died, so would it be the same way with embryonic stem cell retrieval: the cells need to be taken as soon as possible after the cells have stopped dividing. Another concern with this theory is making sure that “signs chosen to certify embryo death don't exclude some living embryos.” (Saletan) Of the four proposals, the second solution is the most probable alternative to traditional hESC research. Once problems are solved in the making of stem cell lines with a single stem cell, there should be few problems with this form of research, if any. The third solution was proposed by William Hurlbut. This solution is rather “grotesque” if one knows what it involves. According to USA Today, many of those in the Catholic faith have a problem with hESC research because it destroys life (as they believe). Hurlbut has found a loophole in what the Catholics define life to be. The “life” issue has been a hindrance to the research because the embryos are destroyed during stem cell retrieval. Thomas Aquinas’ theory that “a living being is more than the sum of its parts,” is what Hurlbut used to justify his proposal. If the embryo is in parts and not a whole, it is not technically a “living being”; it is simply a “sum of parts.” If a scientist took out the gene that is responsible for forming the placenta, the embryo would just develop in parts with no organization, never becoming a “sum.” The “grotesqueness” of his theory is that it is based solely on teratomas; but in his theory, the teratomas would be made by scientists, instead of just being a genetic fluke of nature as they usually are. The gene that Hurlbut is suggesting researchers remove will not always necessarily “booby trap” the embryo, but in the case that removing the placental gene does not work, the gastrulation gene can be removed instead. Many people do not know what to make of this theory. The fact that researchers would be playing creator to a mutated “monster” of a human being bothers many people (Saletan). The fourth solution is too time-consuming. It is possible that adult stem cells can be “programmed” to function much as embryonic stem cells function. The problem is that programming adult stem cells to act like embryonic stem cells is much like just differentiating adult stem cells. In all of these potential solutions, no “life” has to be destroyed; these four proposals would eliminate the conflicts of scientists’ destroying potential lives as they do research on embryos. One thing about this research is very clear: the issues are life and death. “If there is to be any hope of resolving these issues, we must debate when human personhood begins. If we can reach a near consensus on this, then abortion, in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research and other debates will neatly resolve themselves." Comment letter to the Jewish World Review (Robinson) Bibliography “Adult Stem Cell Breakthrough.” NewsWeekly.com. 15 Dec. 2001. 07 Aug. 2005 <http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2001dec15_stem.html>. This article relates how a chemotherapy patient’s blood type was changed as a result of his being injected with umbilical stem cells. Umbilical stem cells do not have to match blood types of the recipients.

“Adult Stem Cells in Breakthrough.” WorldNetDaily.com. 23 June 2005. 07 Aug. 2005 <http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=44955>. This article states how adult stem cells can be specialized to act like they are embryonic stem cells. “Cord Blood Might Become Source of Stem Cells.” NLM.NIH.Gov. 11 July 2005. 07 Aug. 2005 < http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_25712.html>. This webpage states how umbilical cord blood taken from the lining of the umbilical cord produces good stem cells. “Frequently Asked Questions.” StemCellFoundation.org. Stem Cell Research Foundation. 06 Aug. 2005 <http://www.stemcellresearchfoundation.org/ About/FAQ.htm>. This webpage lists questions and answers that are frequently encountered when discussing stem cells and stem cell research. “Hair is a Good Source of Stem Cells.” News.BBC.Co.UK. 28 Mar. 2005. 07 Aug 2005 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4378941.stm>. Researchers in London have found stem cells in hair follicles. Henderson, Diedtra. “The Other Stem Cells.” Boston.com 20 June 2005. 14 July 2005. <http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/06/20/the_other_stem_cells/ > Diedtra Henderson, a reporter for the Boston Globe, states that embryonic stem cells can transform into many more types of cells that can the other types of stem cells. Adult stem cell research is progressing quickly, but embryonic cells are more useful. I problem lies in the fact that the embryo is destroyed as the stem cells are extracted. Irving, Dianne M. “Stem Cell Research: Some Pros and Cons.” LifeIssues.net. 19 Oct. 1999. 07 Aug. 2005 < http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/ irv_19stemcellprocon.html>. This webpage is a bit outdated, but it shows the progess that human embryonic stem cell research has made since 1999.

MacDonald, Chris. “The Ethics of Stem Cell Research.” StemCells.ca. 06 Aug. 2005 <http://stemcells.ca/>. This page explains what stem cells are and provides links to other stem cell sites that can be helpful for research. O’Brien, Nancy Frazier. “Stem Cell Basics.” The-Tidings.com. 18 Mar. 2005. 07 Aug. 2005 < http://www.the-tidings.com/2005/0318/stembasic.htm>. This page explains differences between the types of stem cells and the beginnings of human embryonic stem cell research. “Potential Seen in Adult Stem Cells.” CNN.com. 22 March 2005. 07 Aug. 2005 <http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/03/21/australia.stemcell/>. This article states how adult stem cells can be specialized to act like they are embryonic stem cells. Robinson, B.A. “Human Embryos and Fertility Clinics: Are Pro-life Leaders Ignoring the Real Problems?” ReligiousTolerance.org. 29 July 2005 <http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_inco.htm>. This webpage explains what happens in In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinics and ethical concerns with retrieving human embryonic stem cells from the soon-to-be discarded embryos in IVF clinics. The author of the page lists references at the bottom of the page, which shows he or she researched what was put on the page and adds to credibility. Saad, Lydia. “Americans OK with Using Embryos in Medical Research. (Excerpt)” Gallup.com 25 May 2005. 29 July 2005 <http://www.gallup.com/ poll/content/login.aspx?ci=16486 >. According to Gallup, sixty percent of Americans think that human embryonic stem cell research is “morally acceptable.” The excerpt also states what “side” Democrats and Republicans tend to agree with, concerning human embryonic stem cell research. Saletan, William. “Monster Farming: the Creepy Solution to the Stem Cell Debate.” Slate.MSN.com. 5 Dec. 2005. 06 Aug. 2005 <http:// politics.slate.msn.com/id/2110670>.

This webpage gives possible solutions for the embryonic stem cell research conflicts. Some solutions are odd, but they are potential solutions. These proposals come from the President’s Council on Bioethics. The page explains in detail what these proposals are and how they would work. “Stem Cells.” 21 May 2005. 06 Aug. 2005. Users.RCN.com. <http://users.rcn.com/ jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/S/Stem_Cells.html#NuclearTransplantation>. This site proposes some solutions for the conflicts concerning human embryonic stem cell research, explains what stem cells are, and states some problems encountered when stem cells are used as therapy. “Stem Cells and Diseases.” StemCells.NIH.Gov. National Institutes of Health. 14 July 2005 <http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/health.asp>. The National Institutes of Health state that understanding how normal, healthy cells develop can help us know how to use stem cells to treat diseases and repair defects in human cell development. Stem cells can be used for medical therapy. Stem cells used at the present to treat human diseases are largely adult stem cells, not the embryonic or umbilical stem cell forms. This website is a complete guide to all forms of stem cells, the ethics of stem cell research, and research funding. “Stem Cell Report.” StemCellResearch.org. The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics. 06 Aug. 2005 <http://www.stemcellresearch.org/stemcellreport/>. This page gives facts about stem cell research and the progression of stem cell research on a year-to-year basis. “Stem Cell Research.” MRC.AC.UK. Medical Research Council. 06 Aug. 2005 <http://www.mrc.ac.uk/index/public-interest/public-topical_issues/publicstem_cells.htm>. The website gives minimal information about the Medical Research Council and its research of stem cells; the site explains stem cells and their usefulness in medicine and biology. “A Step Forward in Stem Cell Research.” EurekAlert.org. 26 June 2005. 07 Aug. 2005 <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-06/mscc-asf062305.php>. This page states a possible new way that researchers can gather human embryonic stem cells. Scientists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have

demonstrated this new technique in their research. “Study Will Test Stem Cell Therapy on Human Hearts.” WashingtonPost.com 26 July 2005. 29 July 2005 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/07/26/AR2005072600006.html>. Nationwide, approximately forty-eight patients with heart problems are taking part in a study using stem cells. They will undergo stem cell therapy for their hearts, in attempts to successfully correct or improve their conditions. Stem cells in this study will be taken from human bone marrow, avoiding any conflicts that could arise if embryonic stem cells are used. “Trial to Test Stem Cell Therapy in Heart Patients.” WFTV. 25 July 2005. Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. 26 July 2005 <http://www.wftv.com/ health/4767253/detail.html?rss=orlc&psp=health>. Stem cells have been used to treat heart problems in pigs; because of this, stem cells will be used to treat the heart problems of humans in the near future. The ethical concerns with embryonic stem cells are avoided by the researchers’ using adult stem cells for the treatments, instead of using embryonic stem cells. “Umbilical Cord-Blood Transplants Save Lives of Babies with Rare Genetic Disorder, Krabbe's Disease.” MedicalNewsToday.com. 22 May 2005. 07 Aug. 2005 <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=24897>. Children with Krabbe’s Disease have been successfully treated with umbilical cord stem cells. Children (that were the same age and in the same condition as the treated children) that were left untreated died. Vergano, Dan. “Stem Cell Alternatives Put Forth.” USAToday.com. 12 July 2005. 06 Aug. 2005 < http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-07-12-senatestem_x.htm>. Dan Vergano reports political concerns of human embryonic stem cell research and possible solutions to resolve the conflicts of doing this kind of research. He gives specific facts and quotations from legitimate organizations and political leaders. “What are Some Issues in Stem Cell Research?” GSLC.Genetics.Utah.Edu. Genetic Science Learning Center of the University of Utah. 06 Aug. 2005 <http://gslc.genetics.utah.edu/units/stemcells/scissues/>.

This website states some points of conflict concerning embryonic stem cell research, and asks many questions that are at the root of this conflict. The site offers no answers to these questions. “What are Stem Cells and what are They Used For?” HowStuffWorks.com. 14 July 2005. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/question621.htm>. Stem cells are special types of cells that can transform into other types of cells. The four types of stem cells are embryonic, fetal, umbilical and adult. After they have been “programmed,” stem cells can form any type of cells, then be injected into a part of the body to regenerate tissue that has been damaged or is defective. White, Deborah. “Pros & Cons of Embryonic Stem Cell Research.” About.com. 06 Aug. 2005 < http://usliberals.about.com/od/stemcellresearch/i/StemCell1.htm>. Deborah White gives facts about embryonic stem cell research, political aspects of embryonic stem cell research, and some of the arguments concerning this research in a global perspective.

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