Essay #3 - Jay Glazer Writing 140 Section#64750R Mrs Irwin...

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Jay Glazer Writing 140, Section #64750R Mrs. Irwin October 30, 2007 Assignment #3 An Appeal to Rationality The use of stem cells offers tremendous hope to the millions of people who suffer from debilitating medical conditions. What makes stem cells valuable is that they grow indefinitely and can differentiate into almost all types of bodily tissue. This makes embryonic stem cells an attractive prospect for cellular therapies to treat a wide range of diseases. Many of the potential negative consequences of stem cell research involve ethical implications of manipulating and destroying human embryonic cells. Opponents of stem cell use argue that an embryo, from which stem cells are derived, is a living creature with the potential to become human life and thus, its use is morally impermissible. This ideological skepticism is greatly overshadowed by the potential benefits, which are enormous. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from diseases that stem cells will likely be able to treat. If scientific development continues and scientists are able to continue their research uninhibited, patients suffering from incapacitating conditions will receive greatly needed treatment. Opponents of the use of stem cells argue that it is important to preserve and protect human life, yet ironically, their opposition causes people to die from diseases that stem cell treatment may be able to treat, or even cure. Stem cell benefits are limitless in possibility; they simply must be developed. Stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have either been fertilized in-vitro and then donated for research purposes, or have been grown in the laboratory environment (McKay). The latter process is known as cell culture. Human
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embryonic stem cells are isolated by transferring the inner cell mass into a laboratory culture dish that contains a nutrient broth called culture medium. The cells divide and spread over the surface of the dish. As long as the embryonic stem cells in culture are grown under certain conditions, they remain undifferentiated and unspecialized. However, if cells are allowed to clump together to from embryoid bodies, they begin to differentiate spontaneously. They can form muscle cells, nerve cells, and many other cell types. To generate cultures of specific types of differentiated cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells, or nerve cells, scientists attempt to control the differentiation of embryonic stem cells. Scientists achieve this by changing the chemical composition of the culture medium, altering the surface of the culture dish, or modifying the cells by inserting specific genes. What distinguishes stem cell research from other types of cell research is the source of the cells. Stem cells are derived from embryos, which are fertilized eggs. If scientists can reliably direct the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into specific cell types, they may be able to use the resulting, differentiated cells to treat numerous diseases.
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