Embryonic Stem Cell Research
With a new Democratic President soon to take office, and with a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate, it is likely that embryonic stem cell research will once again become a front burner social issue. President-elect Obama has already made it clear that this issue will be taken up early in his Administration. Proponents contend that little harm is done when a human embryo is created so that it might be destroyed to save the life of another human being. Opponents disagree and believe that it is a slippery slope to go down and that all life should be treated as sacred. Further, it is believed that the Government (we the taxpayers) should not fund the necessary research needed for potential success.
Stem cells were originally developed in mice in 1981, but human lines were not successfully isolated until recently (Landry, Zucker, 2004). Stem cells are the foundation for every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. They are a blank disk that can ultimately store the necessary “data” to perform any number of specialized functions. Stem cells are undifferentiated, “blank” cells that do not yet have a specific task. Under proper conditions, stem cells begin to develop into specialized tissues and organs. They also have the ability to replicate themselves for long periods of time. Stem cells are unspecialized cells so they can self-renew indefinitely and also differentiate into more mature cells with specialized functions (Commission on Life Sciences, 2002).
All human beings start their lives from a single cell, a zygote. Zygotes are formed after fertilization takes place. The zygote divides and forms two cells, this is then repeated and repeated, and repeated. In about 5 days the blast cyst, consisting of 150 cells has been formed. The blast cyst, smaller than a grain of salt, contains two types of cells the trophoblast (outer) and the embryonic (inner). As embryonic stem cells can...