SHOULD FETAL TISSUES BE USED IN THE TREATMENT OF HUMAN DISEASE?

A Written Report

Presented To: Mr. Samonte AP Biology Instructor Presented by: Soumik Sarkar

In partial fulfillment for the Requirements in Advanced Placement Biology [Type the abstract of the document here. The abstract is typically a short summary of the contents of the document.]

June 9, 2008

TABLE OF CONTENTS Section I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. Page

Outline ....……………………………………………………………………………. 3 Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………… 4 Background of the study……………………………………………………………… 5 Related Literature…………………………………………………………………….. 6 Course Impact………………………………………………………………………… 7 Summary……………………………………………………………………………… 8 References………………………………………………………………………………9

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OUTLINE I. Fetal tissue research is unethical and may cause several societal problems. a. It is for the people to look beyond and realize what are the the results for the experiments b. The process is like trading one life for another such as killing fetuses to save the patients c. The method may divert from the intended actions to some nonessential medical procedures II. Some societal problems are teen pregnancies, higher rate of abortion. a. Teen pregnancies will increase because then teens can easily abort their fetus and they would not have to risk their lives b. It will be more common in the developing nations since couples will abort the fetus if they cannot maintain a family c. Business owners possibly select the developing nations to induce the inhabitants in aborting their fetus for money III. Fetal tissue research may prove to be a good source for medical treatment. a. Fetuses used for the operations are voluntarily aborted b. It would be better to save one’s life rather than losing two c. Fetal tissue is desirable because it can flourish even in an aging recipient d. Its proximity to diseased cells helps them to regenerate e. Other neurological disorders may improve from the IV. Patients suffering from various illnesses may be able to overcome these disorders. a. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and many cancers may also be cured b. The widespread use of the tissue of electively aborted fetuses for cosmetic surgery, such as skin and hair transplants will be predictable c. More than 12,000 patients will not have to die waiting for liver transplants V. Legal issues and other ethical controversies may limit the use of this research a. Banning federal funding for human pluripotent stem cell research will not eliminate it. b. These researches will continue in other countries secretly c. Federal funding is the best way to guarantee that the stem cell therapies are developed with the public consideration d. Embryo from the in vitro fertilization may help scientists conducting the research.

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ABSTRACT The fetal tissue transplant for the treatment of human disease has bidirectional perspectives. One group of scientists holds that the aborting new fetuses mainly gain fetal tissue. Scientist DeTurris states that the treatment of human disease by the proliferating stem cells may lead to other unethical purposes. They hold that fetal cells are beneficial because as a mature person grows they cells also grow with the person, and they are not likely to be destroyed by the adult immune system. In the past stem cell research are most likely to cure the fetal-tissue transplants. Some of these disorders include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and most likely diabetes. People with these disorders strongly support this research because they believe that these experiments give them the hope to live longer. Stem cells have the ability to generate into any type of the body cells, as they are required by the biological systems. Apart from the previously mentioned scientists, another group hold the belief that if fetal tissue transplant is used for medical purposes, there will be an increase in the rate of abortion. Since abortion is a controversial issue of whether it would be legalized in many states, the country would face a huge problem if stem cell research were once approved. The reason is because many people will view abortion as a humanitarian act for the society in contributing fetal cells for the organ transplants. Among many situations, teen pregnancies would rise among adolescents since they wouldn’t have to carry the burden, resulting abortion of the fetus at a local hospital.

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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY Fetal tissue research has been conducted in the United States since the middle of the twentieth century. Its practice became more common as the amount of biomedical research increased and as restrictions on the availability of abortion decreased. Research on fetal tissue led to significant advances in the scientific understanding of fetal development and in the diagnosis and treatment of fetal diseases and defects, including the development of amniocentesis as a diagnostic tool. It also played a role in advancing the scientific understanding of cancer, immunology, and transplantation. Because fetal tissue grows more rapidly and is more flexible than other human tissue, and is less likely to be rejected by the immune system, it has also been used to treat diseases through transplantation. Fetal tissue transplantation usually involves the injection of fetal cells into a diseased organ such as the brain or pancreas. Many scientists believe that fetal tissue transplantation will lead to significant new developments in medical science. Researchers have already had limited success in using fetal tissue transplants to treat patients with Parkinson's disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and other illnesses. Although most medical ethicists agree that these new procedures hold great promise, they warn that the use of fetal tissue must be strictly regulated in order to avoid ethical abuses. Fetal tissue transplant had been a controversial issue over the past decade. The biological capabilities of modifying the human genome and produce a long-lived individual raised several questions. While one group of scientists’ report that fetal tissue research may lead to an increase rate of abortion for the stem cell research, others detract this idea by pointing out the advantages of the fetal tissue transplant. Although the government had regulated this research previously, there is a rumor of having this research in other countries where government involvement is at a minimal level.

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RELATED LITERATURE There are both risks and benefits in assessing fetal cells to cure human disease. Although the benefits seem to be less logical than the risks, in the long term they may rule out the possible disadvantages. Some of the advantages are: (1) fetal tissues can regenerate and mature to function as healthy cells; (2) these are not usually destroyed by a person’s immune system, so they remain active throughout a person’s life; (3) fetal tissues are collected through abortion which is a voluntary unlike someone’s accidental death. These arguments are further stimulated by the additions of various perspectives of the scientists. For example, according to physician Bernard Nathason, having abortion to donate cells will be highly desirable but they would not be the cause behind harmful experiments. These fetuses will be aborted anyway; therefore collecting the tissues from them will save someone’s life. This is because nowadays organ transplants is another way to substitute one’s damaged organs. While it may seem to be an easy opportunity to have transplanted organs, the results may be devastating. For example, the donor might have cancerous cells or some form of disease like Hepatitis C, which will proliferate once these tissues are brought under contact with each other. The pros and cons in this research field have come to many conclusions to support their own perspectives. Some of the possibilities they have suggested include the high rate of abortion in the United States and more exclusively in the developing nations where current abortion rate is high contrasted to the wealthy nations. The reason is because developing nations cannot properly maintain or provide daily needs for every family member. As a result, they will choose to abort a fetus, which may even be their first child in a family. Moreover, across the United States and in the developing nations teen pregnancy will rise at its peak. Since the field of medicine will eagerly be waiting for the donation of fetus, pregnant teens that do not wish to keep their baby will abort the fetus. Thought this process they may be less aware of the dangers and problems to being pregnant in their adolescence, as they can always abort the fetus to any local health clinic.

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Others argue that the implementation of fetal tissues can be a major breakthrough in medicine. Patients with cancer, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease are eagerly waiting to have a little chance to save their life. The organ donation process that are widely used today has many side effects. Such are matching of blood group, and the presence of any sort of blood transfusing diseases. Moreover, a person’s body might reject the newly transplanted organ which may be detrimental since it will conflict with the immune system. All of these are possible if and only if another individual passes away and donates his/her organ to benefit the society. Otherwise, organ donation is not an effective method to cure prolonged diseases. However, with the research of the stem cells or fetal tissue, these problems can easily be diminished, since unlike organs, stem cells are pluripotent meaning that they can undergo many cell types. The immune system will not reject it because the stem cell will grow to be just like a persons body cells. This discovery of an alternate type of treatment will save many children, friends, parents, and neighbors with new tissues and organs to replace their own damaged ones. Therefore, a possible treatment of the Alzheimer’s Disease and cancers can also be conducted through this method. In addition to these examples, evidence was found that fetal tissue transplant had minimized a brain disease. Although the ban to perform this research was from 1988, researchers still conducted the experiment and some patients have paid $30,000 or more to have the transplants. As a result of this, patients with brain disorder had significantly better at such neurological tasks as taping their feet and touching their thumb and forefinger. These improvement shows us that fetal tissue transplant to fight the disease is effective and should be conducted to treat human diseases.

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COURSE IMPACT For patients with Parkinson’s disease their emotions become lifeless as they struggle to live most of the times. These patients may be given an opportunity to live if fetal cells are cultivated to generate a damaged organ. Likewise, those with diabetes may seem to have a controlled diet for everyday life because their life depends on the production of the insulin and conserving the blood glucose level. However, if these people could be biologically modified to produce or have the desired organ to carry out normal functions, living a life would be much easier for them. The process to carry out this functions may seem to be unreasonable or unethical, but once these things are performed, they can significantly improve the quality of human life and other parts of the world.

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SUMMARY Those opposed to fetal tissue research have made a number of arguments against the use of fetuses from elective abortions. Morally opposed to abortion itself, they argue that the fetal tissue researcher is complicit in the destruction of the fetus and that fetal tissue research will create incentives for more abortions. Moreover, they maintain that a woman who has an abortion cannot legally authorize research on the aborted fetus because she has abandoned her parental responsibility through the act of abortion. They also argue that fetal tissue research can and should be restricted to fetuses from spontaneous abortions and ectopic pregnancies. Those who favor fetal tissue research contend that it has already led to significant medical gains that have saved and improved many lives, and will continue to do so. They argue that researchers have an ethical duty to relieve suffering and cure diseases and that fetal tissue research contributes greatly to this cause. They also contend that researchers must continue to have access to ethically obtained fetuses. They hold that the tissue of fetuses from elective abortions has far fewer defects and is much easier to obtain than that of fetuses from nonelective abortions or ectopic pregnancies.

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REFRENCES 1. DeTuris, Mary. “Fetal Tissue Research Is Unethical.” Opposing Viewpoints: Abortion. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 22 May. 2008 <http://find.gelenet.com/ovrc/informark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabIDT010prodId=OVRC&docld=EJ3010234217&source=gale&srcprod=OCRC&userGroupName=n ypl&version=1.0> 2. Goldstein, Lawrence S.B. “Fetal Stem Cell Research May Improve Medicine.” Opposing Viewpoints: Technology and Society. Ed. Auriana Ojeda. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 22 May. 2008 <http://find.gelenet.com/ovrc/informark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabIDT010prodId=OVRC&docld=EJ3010234217&source=gale&srcprod=OCRC&userGroupName=n ypl&version=1.0> 3. Kolata, Gina. “Evidence is found that Fetal Tissue transplants can ease a brain disease”. NewYork Times. May 19, 1992. Accessed May 20, 2008

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