Essay on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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When does life begin? This four-word sentence has vexed scientists and ethicists for years. Does life begin the moment the egg is formed or the moment that egg is fertilized and becomes an embryo? Does it begin days later when the cells within that embryo begin communicating with each other and deciding which will be the hair, the heart, the brain, the eyes, and so forth? Does life begin 40 days after conception, as some religions believe this is the moment a soul is breathed into the embryo (Peters, Lebacqz and Bennett, 2008)? What if we could agree that a single cell is not life, just yet, but a potential piece of life? These are the questions that stem cell researchers have faced and fought since the first human embryonic stem …show more content…
On the fifth day, the cells form a sphere-like shell for the other cells to divide in, called a blastocyst. There are approximately 30 cells inside the blastocyst that differentiate into the three types of major tissue layers. Those 30 cells are the stem cells (NRC, 2001). When collected through the in-vitro fertilization process, scientists extract those 30 cells and place them in a culture to help them proliferate and to keep them healthy and stable. The major problem that hESC researchers have encountered is that, in 2001, former President Bush declared that only a small number of hESC lines would be approved and given federal funding. In fact, only twelve hESC lines were approved and they were of “questionable quality” because they were derived in hESC research infancy when very little was known about the process. What makes these twelve hESC lines even less suitable is that they were cultured in mouse feeder-cells, rendering them useless for clinical applications as they take on animal elements that could include viruses (Fox, 2007). More money has been spent and more attention has been focused on adult stem cell research because of these restrictions. While adult stem cell research has come a long way since its beginnings in the late 1990s, it still has some drawbacks. Adult stem cells have already matured and are less plastic than hESCs. This means that they cannot develop into any type

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