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Stem Cell Research

            Stem cell research has become an issue of much debate. Research of stem cells may contribute to therapies or cures for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, organ transplantation and other diseases (Willgoos, 2001). Stem cell technology was featured as the 1999 "Breakthrough of the Year " on the cover of Science magazine, since it may fundamentally alter the practice of medicine in the future by enabling the repair and replacement of vital tissues within the body (Stem Cells: Corporate Profile). The basic ethical issue raised is related to where we obtain the stem cells. Most stem cells are obtained from fertilized human embryos (Chesney et al., 2001). The main argument in the debate on stem cells is when an embryo becomes a human being and whether or not destroying the embryo could be seen as murder. Stem cells can also be obtained from an adult's blood or bone marrow, but these stem cells are not as versatile and can grow only into a few select tissues, as opposed to embryonic stem cells that can grow into almost any tissue (Stem Cells: Corporate Profile). .
             I support stem cell research because I believe it is too valuable a resource to leave untapped. The majority of the public also share this view; 58% support stem cell research and 60% think the research should be publicly funded (McLennan, 2001). The possibilities seem endless with predictions that stem cells technology will be able to rebuild the nervous system, repair damaged hearts, manage autoimmune diseases, develop targeted therapy for cancer, and develop functional pancreatic islets for diabetics (Willgoos, 2001). Another disease which stem cell research has already proven effective in fighting is Parkinson's (Freed et al., 2001). One of the main reasons I support stem cell research is that two of my relatives have Parkinson's disease and if there is a possible cure to be found in stem cell research, how could I not support it? Also, there are many people who need heart transplants and most probably won't get them, but if this research could help provide a new heart for them, I think that it is extremely important to continue stem cell research.

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