Embryonic Stem Cells to Cure Research Paper

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However. still a great deal of research and studies are needed in the order to study the efficiency of stem cells in innervation of the striatum, dopamine release, and relief from the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (Mummery et al. 2002, p. 2736).


Strokes are caused by the blockage of cerebral artery causing focal ischaemia, loss of glial cells and neurons, along with cognitive and sensory impairments. There are no current therapies that can repair the damage caused by the stroke and even if some symptoms are relieved by the help of any minor therapy, it is considered helpful. Certain sources of the stem cells include fetal brain, teratocarcinoma or neuroepithelial cell lines, umbilical cord and bone marrow. These cells have shown great changes in the conditions caused by stroke. The studies have shown that these cells also secrete trophic factors that play important roles in cell survival, proper cellular functioning and regeneration. Thereby the cells can replace dead neurons, cause increased remyelination of the axons and repair damaged neuron circuits (Barberi et al. 2006, p. 0555).

Huntington's disease

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Huntington's disease is a disorder that has been termed as fatal and is characterized by chorea, or excessive spontaneous movements as well as progressive dementia. This disorder is caused by the death of projection neurons present in the striatum. When human embryonic stem cells are used clinically for the treatment of this disorder, the main focus is on the replacement of striatal neurons. But this therapeutical approach has been regarded insufficient and inefficient as in the case of Huntington's disease, the reports have highlighted progressive neocortical degeneration. Functional recovery in the patients is promoted by replacement of cells with grafts of fetal striatal neurons (Kehat et al. 2001, p. 412).

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Research Paper on Embryonic Stem Cells to Cure Assignment

This disorder is more characterized by a dysfunction and an increased degeneration of the motor neurons at multiple locations including spinal cord, cerebral cortex as well as the brain stem. This disorder is characterized by a great progression in muscle weakness and death occurs in a few years. Thereby if human embryonic stem cells are used for therapy, it is important that stem cells must replace upper as well as lower motor neurons. In this case, it is also important that the new neurons generated by the stem cells must have the ability to integrate into neuronal circuitries. Various studies have studied the possibility of generation of lower motor neurons by using stem cells having the ability to develop functional synapse with the muscle fibers and cause an extension of the axons to ventral roots after a successful transplantation (Cai et al. 2007, p. 1237). This is a long-term approach.

An approach contrary to this approach is a short-term approach which focuses on the prevention of motor neurons from dying. Studies conducted on rats have shown that when human embryonic germ cells were delivered into the cerebrospinal fluid of the rats, motor recovery was seen based on the fact that cells migrated into the spinal cord. The studies have further highlighted that the efficiency of this process can be further improved by genetically modifying the stem cells in such a way that they can secrete molecules that can promote neuron survival (Kehat et al. 2001, p. 407).

Human Embryonic Stem Cells for the Generation of Functional Hepatic Cells

End stage liver diseases have been treated using orthotopic liver transplantation. A successful alterative to orthotopic liver transplantation is hepatocyte transplantation. Hepatocyte transplantation is an important alternative to whole organ transplantation in case of acute liver failure. This process can also help in decreasing the mortality rates. One of the major limitations in this case is the availability of human hepatocytes (Lerou, and Daley, 2005, p. 324). The main source of human hepatocytes is human embryonic stem cells. It has been reported that human embryonic stem cells can proliferate infinitely while maintaining the potential to differentiate into almost any kind of cell. Thereby if proper conditions are provided to the stem cells, these cells can be made to differentiate into hepatic cells. Second main advantage of generating hepatocytes from stem cells is that these cells can be used for drug testing as liver is an important detoxifying organ.

Studies have shown that the differentiation capacity of human embryonic stem cells into hepatocytes is lower; by this means there is a need to develop methods that can ensure progressive development of stem cells into hepatocytes. Studies have been conducted in which human embryonic stem cells have been induced with Activin A and FGF4 (fibroblast growth factor)/BMP2 (bone morphogenetic protein). An important role of Activin A was to induce and increase the endoderm differentiation of embryonic stem cells. On the other hand, hepatic differentiation was induced by the help of FGF4 (fibroblast growth factor)/BMP2 (bone morphogenetic protein) from the endoderm of stem cells. Thereby these cell lines can be promising for future drug testing and hepatocyte replacement in acute liver failure conditions (Stojkovic et al. 2004, p. 264).

Ethical Considerations of Using Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Biomedicine industry of the modern days has been characterized by the culturing and isolation of the human embryonic stem cells. These cells have been used for the benefit of mankind. By the help of these cells, many dying and diseased cells can be replaced resulting in the cure of a certain medical condition. One of the main characteristics of these cells is that they have the ability to renew themselves into any kind of cells and tissues depending upon the conditions provided.

It is immensely ironic that the technology that is being used for the betterment of life of the mankind faces an important question of the importance and the value of life. An important fact that needs to be highlighted here is that when embryos are used to harvest embryonic stem cells, it leads to the destruction of the embryos. Destruction of human embryos means the destruction of the beginnings of the human life. Thereby an important question of an importance of life emerges here. Should a life that has just begun be used to make improvements in the life that already exists? (Lerou, and Daley, 2005, p. 327).

Main ethical issues in relation to using human embryos as a source of stem cells have been highlighted in the Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002 and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002. Main focus of these bills has been on the destruction of human embryos to obtain stem cells and on the creation of human embryos in the case of cloning.

Human stem cell research has been named as destructive embryo research. There are two fundamental moral values in clash in this case. One is to make sure that any human suffering is alleviated by all possible means and the second main value is related to an importance of human life. Use of stem cells can promise alleviation and relief in the sufferings of human beings so the first value is justified. Second value however is violated by harvesting of human embryonic stem cells. In the case of stem cell research, both principles cannot be respected at the same time.

Social Oppression

One important argument that has been raised relates to the effect that biotechnology has on social relationships. Here it has been highlighted that all kinds of biotechnological researches should be evaluated, not only in case of the effectiveness that the research has on the subjects of an experiment but also in relation to the oppression that it causes on connections within a society. There are certain lobbies that have argued that human embryonic research has caused an increased oppression in women, as women who donate their ova and embryos for the research purpose are at a risk of being exploited. Thus there are chances that women would be alienated from reproductive labor (Mummery et al. 2002, p. 2738).

Value of the Embryo

An important question is that what exactly the moral value of an embryo is. Here it won't be any controversial to call am embryo as a human life that is just in its beginning. There are leading views on the status of the embryos and these are as follows;

a. Potential individuals

b. Individuals

c. Subjects of moral harm

d. Divine creations

e. Having an intrinsic value, beginnings of a human life;

Embryos can be regarded as human beings. Although human beings and the embryos have many differences but there is no denying of the fact that the main similarity between an embryo and a human being is the continuum of growth and development. In some cases, there are some lobbies who argue that embryos cannot be regarded as human beings or persons but they can develop into persons and human beings if they are allowed to. On the other hand, it has been highlighted that when IVF embryos are developed for obtaining human stem cells than there are lesser chances that these embryos will survive.

Embryos warrant certain moral importance based on the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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