History Of Stem Cell Research Legislation Biology Essay


Beginning in the 1960's, adult stem cell research began on humans, accomplishing success in the treatment of patient of a patient with severe combined immunodeficiency disorder in 1968. Then early 1970's, adult stem cell have been successfully used for diseases such as immunodeficiency's and leukemia's. Now that much time has passed, we are still not in a good position at this time with stem cell research being federally funded because of all the politics that go along with it.

The issues surrounding stem cell research came into play, distinctively embryonic stem cell research, during the first year of President Bush in 2001. The President constituted a ban on federal spending for the purpose of emanating new embryonic stem cells from fertilized embryos. According to Pres. Bush; performing research on embryos is destroying human life and therefore should be avoided and as a result; he denied funding.

The ban was overturned by the 109th and 110th Congress and they were then vetoed by Bush. "During the 109th Congress, both houses also passed and Bush signed a bill banning the creation of human fetuses with the sole purpose of destroying them and harvesting their body parts. The Senate also passed a bill encouraging research into the creation of stem cell lines without destroying human embryos." (SourceWatch).

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On January 11, 2007, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, was passed by the Democratic-controlled House, (H.R.3), which was sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), which lifted restrictions on the new federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research that was implemented by President Bush in 2001, under this Bill, The Secretary of Health and Human Services is directed to carry out and support research that employs human embryonic stem cells. Under the bill, the cells viable for use would be required to come from extra human embryos, smaller than the head of pin, donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics.

President Bush, issued an executive order motivating government agencies to support promising research that might command useful stem cells without destroying human embryos, then Bush vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, this was the third veto of his presidency and the second veto for embryonic stem cell-related legislation. Bush stated " If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayers for the first time in our history to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos. I made it clear to Congress and to the American people that I will not allow our nation to cross this morale line." (sourcewatch).

On January 4, 2007, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA.) announced the Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapy Enhancement Act of 2007 (S.51) which will heighten research which possibly will give greater understanding of treatments for diseases and other opposing health conditions, another bill the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act of 2007 (H.R. 322) was introduced in the House by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) on January 9, 2007 and on January 23, 2007 the Hope Act (S.363) purpose is to extend five billion dollars over ten year for stem cell research which does not involve breaking the ethical line by using taxpayer dollars for the destruction of human embryos.

Human embryonic stem cell research "focuses on cells derived from five to six day old fertilized eggs, unlike adult stem cells, which are specialized to particular tissues or organs, embryonic stem cells have the potential to specialize into any cell in the body and therefore have the capability to be utilized in tissues and organs where stem cells are missing or damaged." (Matthews K.)

How does Stem Cell Research Compare to Comparable Statues in the Rest of the World?

The argument of using embryo's for stem cell research seems to vary worldwide, but it seems that the rest of the world is on board in using stem cell research, and its meaningful contributions makes a difference and is being supported by government funds and grants. In China, they have a program called StemCellsChina and its purpose if to "connect people all over the world with active stem cell therapy centers in China" (Jacobs W.). In the western part of China, it is still relatively unknown, adult stem cell therapy-autologous and umbilical cord stem cells, has had an extended history. Hospitals that care for patients have seen hundreds of cases dealing with Cerebral Palsy and the systems of Ataxia can be fundamentally decreased.

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Australia has an Australian Stem Cell Centre, which the embryonic stem cells are removed from embryos that comes from eggs that's been fertilized in an IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinic. The left over embryos that are not necessary for implantation are used, and donated for the purposes of research with an informed consent from the donors. Over in Germany a patient that has been on medication for over ten years was able to stop the medication once he received a transplant of stem cells through a donor that had a rare gene variant that was known to resist the deadly disease, and it also cured his leukemia researchers had reported.

It seems that other countries are getting the funding that they need in order to do the research without all of the red tape and politics attached to it. It's really a shame that we here in the United States have to go through so much for research that could possibly be saving lives. People are leaving the United States and spending lots of monies in order to get treated with stem cells for whatever problems they want to be possibly cured from.

Possible Cures for Diseases using Stem Cells

By studying stem cells, the process would help us all get an understanding how they transform into the dazzling display of specialized cells that make us what we are. The more serious medical conditions, like cancer and birth defects, are problems that are due to the process. We hope to get a better understanding of normal cell development which will allow us to understand and possibly correct errors that have cause some of these conditions.

Another possible application of stem cells is creating cells and tissues for medical therapies. "Today, donated organs and tissues are often used to replace those that are diseased or destroyed. Unfortunately, the number of people needing a transplant far exceeds the number of organs available for transplantation. Pluripotent stem cells offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injury, burns, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.". (Stem Cell)

What are the Current Laws on Stem Cells in the United States and where should they go in the future and Why?

Stem cells are very important to the medical scientists because you can use the cells to duplicate specific human tissues. The cells offer the possibility of a renewable source of "replacement cells and tissue to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There is almost no realm of medicine that might not be touched by this innovation." (Stem Cell Research) An Executive Order 13505 on March 9, 2009, by President Barack Obama named Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research involving Human Stem Cells was signed into law. The Order gives parameters on why this Order should be supported and funded with federal funds.

This Order states "Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and conditions. Advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds". (Executive Order No. 13505,2009).

There was also another Executive Order 13435, Expanding Approved Stem Cell Lines in Ethically Responsible Ways, was signed June 20, 2007, to provide leadership with consideration to do research on pluripotent stem cells derived by moral responsible applications so that the potential of pluripotent stem cells can be looked into without violating the human dignity or somehow degrade human life. The Order states "The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) shall conduct and support research on the isolation, derivation, production, and testing of stem cells that are capable of producing all or almost all of the cell types of the developing body and may result in improved understanding of or treatments for diseases and other adverse health conditions, but are derived without creating a human embryo for research purposes or destroying, discarding, or subjecting to harm a human embryo or fetus." (Executive Order No. 13435, 2007)

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Australia's Senate passed legislation on December 5, 2002 regulating embryonic stem cell research along with passing a separate bill to ban human cloning. The legislation authorizes scientists to work with existing embryonic stem cell lines to produce new lines from extra cells in vitro fertilization embryos created prior to April 5, 2002, and this signifies an end to a patchwork of state and territory rules. "Current U.S. policy strictly limits the amount of publicly funded research that can be done on embryonic stem cells. Private companies can do as they please but legislation being pushed by Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback and others would put an end to that, too." (Embryonic Stem Cell Legislation)

My Comments

I believe they should continue to fund embryonic stem cells, because as noted in the above report, there are so many people can be cured of all sorts of diseases, with the go ahead and the proper funding from the government. This debate regarding stem cells have been going on for quite some time now and I don't quite understand why there always have to be politics involved when during research or trying to save a life.

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Information. Retrieved on July 28, 2010 from http://www.stemcells.nih.gov/policy/2009guidelines.htm