This paper will explore embryonic stem cell research (E.) and the moral implications therein. It will discuss the science behind E.S.C.R. and the controversy surrounding it. Advocates of E.S.C.R. say that this technology must be given full attention due to the fantastic implications it could have in all fields of medicine. People who oppose it would say that this is abortion on a smaller scale. Instead waiting until a fetus is formed, the abortion takes place while the zygote is still a group of cells. .
Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated cells that are unlike any specific adult cell. Conversely they have the ability to form any adult cell. Because undifferentiated embryonic stem cells can proliferate indefinitely in culture, they could potentially provide an unlimited source of specific, clinically important adult cells such as bone, muscle, liver or blood cells. In laymen's terms, this means that embryonic stem cells can, (if manipulated correctly) turn into any type of human cell, anything from bone marrow to vital organ tissue. .
In the hours following fertilization, the cell divides into identical totipotent cells (Figure I). Either one of these cells, if placed into a woman's uterus, has the potential to develop into a fetus, (if both are placed in the uterus you will get twins). About four days after fertilization and after many cycles of cell division, these totipotent cells begin to specialize, forming a hollow sphere of cells, called a blastocyst. The blastocyst has an outer layer of cells and inside the hollow sphere; there is a cluster of cells called the inner cell mass. The inner cell mass are the embryonic stem cells (Figure I). .
Transplant patients are also excited about E.S.C.R. due to the theory that it will get rid of transplant rejection all together. Now, the way they choose an organ for a patient is simple, blood type. The organ is then transplanted and the body knows that there is something inside it that doesn't belong.