Neocytophilism Verses Neocytophobia (Stem Cell)
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Neocytophilism verses Neocytophobia
The human body begins life as a single cell, known as a zygote. This zygote will divide into two cells, then, those two cells will divide into four, then eight, and so forth. Within three days, this zygote will consist of 16 cells. By the fifth day, it will start to form an embryo. The stem cells from this embryo, it is suspected, through genetic engineering, can be manipulated to create any part of the entire human body. Unlocking the secret to this embryoÐ²Ð‚™s human potential will be the biggest medical breakthrough in the history of mankind. Scientists have discovered the production of certain stem cells may be stimulated to form any type of the bodyÐ²Ð‚™s two hundred plus cells. Theoretically, these cells could and would eventually form any type of human biological mass, including but not limed to, cardiac tissue, smooth muscle tissue, skeletal tissue, bone tissue, and nerve tissue. Unfortunately, because some stem cells can be taken from human embryos, this elicits much controversy. The controversy is between religion and science. Religionists fear Ð²Ð‚Ñšembryo farmsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Hudson 14), and the use of embryonic stem cells as being a form of abortion. Scientists argue that there are more embryos being thrown away than what will ever be needed for research, and that this is too big of a medical breakthrough to be ignored. This could be the cure of all cures, maybe even a cure for death.
Can religion and science find a compromise on stem cell research?
There are two types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. The adult stem cells (these cells are considered adult about a month after live birth) can be found in several places in the human body: brain, blood, cornea, retina, heart, fat, skin, dental pulp, bone marrow, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and intestines. The disadvantage to this is they are limited to what they can be manipulated to become. For instance, an adult stem cell in the brain, can become a glial cell or neuron, both neural cells, however, they cannot become a bone or liver cell (Hudson 13). Another problem exists with adult stem cells in that they are harder to cultivate than embryonic cells (Hudson 13).
Researchers at Wake Forest University are trying to engineer human organs using the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from a biopsy of a patientÐ²Ð‚™s organ (Devitt 1). They do not have this method perfected, but have managed to grow a bladder in a laboratory dish. The benefits of this science could very well see all of the people on waiting lists, who need to receive an organ transplant matching their own blood and tissue type, receive the organ they so desperately require. No one would die waiting for organs such as hearts, kidneys, or livers. The organ could be grown in a laboratory from cells taken from the patientÐ²Ð‚™s biopsy. This is a method using adult stem cells. To this point, only adult stem cell research has involved human test subjects.
The greatest controversy lies with the embryonic stem cell. These embryonic stem cells are not limited, like those of the adult. They have the potential to become any of the two hundred plus cell types of the human body. Manipulating the cells to become something specific is still very complicated, and not fully understood. Ð²Ð‚ÑšOne of the greatest challenges in this work is to harness and direct cell differentiation,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ said Harvard cell biologist Douglas Melton.
What are the requirements to making a stem cell from bone, or another one from brain tissue, what is the missing piece to this complex puzzle of life?
Researchers are just now beginning to realize the complex combinations of growth factors, as well as chemical and genetic signals that drive the process of specific tissue development of stem cells (Devitt 2). The benefit to embryonic stem cell research is limitless. If scientists learn the key to differentiating the different environments needed for growing each specific cell type from an embryonic stem cell, everything and anything could be replaced, or repaired.
Where does life begin? Most agree that life starts at the fertilization of the female egg. Others believe that it starts when a heart beat is detected, or when nervous tissues are developed. This has been a debate for decades, however no scientific evidence exists to back either claim.
Most religionists are very weary of embryonic stem cell research. They contend it is opening the door to something immoral and that it is something that sacrifices the value of life for quality of life. The churches argue this could open the door to Ð²Ð‚Ñšembryo farmsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ or an even a greater evil (Hudson 20). Pope John Paul II addressed President Bush about the embryonic stem cell issue at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, July 23, 2001, stating:
Another area in which political and moral choices have the gravest consequences for the future of civilization concerns the most fundamental of human rights, the right to life itself. Experience is already showing how a tragic coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life in the womb, leading to accommodation and acquiescence in the face of other related evils such as euthanasia, infanticide and, most recently, proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos, destined to destruction in the process. A free and virtuous society, which America aspires to be, must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception until natural death. In defending the right to life, in law and through a vibrant culture of life, America can show the world the path to a truly humane future in which man remains the master, not the product, of his technologyÐ²Ð‚¦ With these sentiments I cordially invoke upon you and the beloved American people Gods blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
Scientists argue that it is immoral to throw these embryos away when they could be used to save lives. They argue there is no value of life since the embryo did not have a life potential. Jennifer S. Holland, a senior writer for National Geographic wrote:
Nearly 400,000 in vitro fertilization embryos are in storage in the United States. Less that 3% have been donated for research. Almost as many are designated to be discarded each year. Only a fraction of those do arrive in the labs that are suitable for study.
Is there a solution? Can we find a cure to virtually everything without crossing moral boundaries? Several ideas have