Research Than Embryonic Stem Cells Biology Essay

Published:

Stem cells are cells which have the ability to develop into any other type of cell in our body. There are two types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner mass of cells of a five day blastocyst, and in the process the embryo is destroyed. These stem cells are pluripotent: they have the ability to develop into any type of cell in the body. Adult stem cells are multipotent; this means that they are tissue specific abd therefore only able to develop into a certain tissue or cell. Adult stem cells are derived from the bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, skin, liver, skeletal muscle and the brain. Recently scientists developed a method called iPS (induced pluripotent stem cells): where adult stem cells can be reprogrammed to display the same characteristics as embryonic stem cells. These cells can't be used for clinical use as scientists do not know how safe or stable they are yet. It may take many years before iPS can be used clinically as more research needs to be done on these cells. Scientists need to confirm whether these cells can divide and are as stable in their chromosomes as embryonic stem cells.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Professional

Essay Writers

Lady Using Tablet

Get your grade
or your money back

using our Essay Writing Service!

Essay Writing Service

Stem cell research has generated a lot of controversy and debate over the years. There has been great debate over whether embryonic stem cells should be used for research as the embryo is destroyed when the stem cells are extracted. Many religious and social groups believe the embryo is a potential human life. Scientists believe that by conducting the embryonic stem cell research, many diseases can be cured in the future and they also believe that embryonic stem cells are more 'plastic' than adult stem cells, meaning that they are able to differentiate into any type of cell. If more research is conducted on adult stem cells; more ways of isolating and harvesting them can be found out. Recently scientists at Lund University have found out that adult stem cells are actually more 'plastic' than they actually thought they were. They have discovered that stem cells from adipose tissue and the brain are able to differentiate into many more types of cells that they originally thought.

Therefore considering the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research; it can be said that adult stem cells are a more viable option for research than embryonic stem cells.

This topic is surrounded by controversy and is very interesting, as stem cells could be a life saver for many people suffering from diseases in the years to come, therefore I chose this topic. News about stem cells has been appearing in the newspapers and magazines lately and the public is becoming more aware of stem cells.

This research project focuses on whether adult stem cells or embryonic stem cells are more viable for research.

2. Literature Review

Scientists say that stem cells will benefit the future of medicine and will be able to cure many diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease and many more. The main properties which make stem cells differ from every other body cell is their ability to differentiate and self renew.

The embryonic stem cells used for research are taken from the 'surplus' embryos from IVF. These embryos were created to be given a life so to destroy them is unethical, some should be put for adoption than destroyed, therefore treated in a respectable way. As they will be far more embryos than can be adopted, there is no other option to destroy them and therefore use the stem cells for research, but embryos should not be created just for research. The law should not allow these extra embryos to be created, as it is unethical for life to be created and then destroyed.

Many parents nowadays are storing their children's stem cells, which are extracted from the umbilical cord when they are born. They are stored in special stem cell banks and this is costly but later on if the child experiences any illness, at least her own stem cells can be used to cure her. The stem cell banks will eventually decrease the number of embryos that are destroyed during embryonic stem cell research. It will take time for parents to become aware of this facility but if the numbers of stem cell banks are increased, many people will be able to donate and give their stem cells to a close family member, who shares a similar genetic code. These stem cell banks will be similar to blood banks; the problem of immune rejection can be eventually solved by research.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Comprehensive

Writing Services

Lady Using Tablet

Plagiarism-free
Always on Time

Marked to Standard

Order Now

With the usage of adult stem cells there is no fear of immune rejection because the patient's own stem cells are used to cure him whereas with embryonic stem cells there is a chance the patient's body will reject the stem cells received as the genetic code of the patient and the embryonic stem cells differ.

There are many benefits of adult stem cells such as: there are no ethical concerns using adult stem cells, there has been a success rate with the usage of adult stem cells in many cases around the world. Adult stem cells are also not prone to forming tumours and becoming malignant. Although there are some challenges with adult stem cells such as: there are available in small quantities and it is often difficult to isolate them and there are more DNA abnormalities present because of the toxins in the environment and the errors which could have taken place during DNA replication..

Recently Dave Andrusko wrote an article in the National right to life news today, about how Dr. Eduardo Marban used 'stem cells derived from a patient's own heart muscle to reduce the size of the scars left over from prior heart attack and to regrow damaged muscle.' (Dave Andrusko). Dr. Marban also said, 'there is no reason adult stem cells could not be used to repair other organs as well' (Dave Andrusko).

The above quotes support the hypothesis that adult stems are viable for research than embryonic stem cells.

There have been many breakthroughs already with adult stem cells and research is still continuing. But many scientists believe that embryonic stem cells will be more capable to treat disease as embryonic stem cells are available in large quantities, are easy to isolate and they have the ability to form into any type of body cell. According to Dr Amin Abboud, the author of the article The Stem Cell Debate, 'clinical application is a long way off. Prior to clinical use of embryonic and foetal stem cells, it will be necessary to thoroughly investigate the malignant properties of embryonic stem cells.' 'Adult stem cells seem to be more stable than embryonic stem cells and are not as prone to forming tumours' (Dr Amin Abboud). Many scientists as well as some of the general public don't believe that a five day embryo is a living being yet as it is just a ball of cells and doesn't display any characteristics of being human such as it doesn't have a heartbeat and it cannot breathe as yet. They think we must use the embryo to help mankind. According to Goldstein, the author of chapter 5 of Fundamentals of the stem cell debates 'current scientific evidence does not support the contention that adult stem cells can replace embryonic stem cells' (Monroe, Miller and Tobis, 2008, pg 104). This clearly doesn't support the hypothesis that adult stem cells are more viable than embryonic stem cells for research.

Dr Catherine Verfaille, one of the scientists conducting adult stem cell research, made a statement 'that it is too early to make a decision about which cell type is best and for which applications' (Monroe, Miller and Tobis, 2008, pg 105). Fundamentals of stem cell research was written in 2008 and stem cell research has made a lot of progress since then, and have made discoveries about the use of embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells have not been used in many treatments up to date. A recent article published by Alice Park in the Time Healthland, 2012 revealed the success of using embryonic stem cells to treat blindness. Researchers at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute 'injected retinal cells derived from embryonic stem cells into the eyes of two patients suffering from progressive blindness'(Park,A ,2012). They were successful as the two patients had regained their sight back. Even though there has been a success with embryonic stem cells, researchers still need to confirm whether they are stable enough and do not result in the patients experiencing side effects.

According to Bradley Matte, director of life issues institute, researchers at Harvard medical school have had success with curing type 1 diabetes with adult stem cells, 'researchers experienced a permanent reversal of Type 1 diabetes in mice by killing the cells responsible for the diabetes.  The animals' adult stem cells took over and regenerated missing cells needed to produce insulin' (Matte, B, 2009), and thus eliminated the disease.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

This Essay is

a Student's Work

Lady Using Tablet

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Examples of our work

Recently researchers at the Lund University discovered stem cells which are situated in the brain. According to Padraig, author of article All about stem cells and the brain, Dr Gesine Paul-Visse, the associate profferssor of neuroscience at the university revealed that their findings show that the 'cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought, and these cells are very versatile'(Padraig,2012). This therefore indicates that adult stem cells are more 'plastic' than they were originally thought to be.

Therefore there have been many breakthroughs with adult stem cells and there has been a high success rate till today. Embryonic stem cells will take some years before it can be used confidently on patients. There have been some unsuccessful incidents with embryonic stem cells till date, as well as a few successful incidents. Embryonic stem cell research still has a long way to go compared to adult stem cell research.

3. Methodology

3.1) Primary Research

Two types of questionnaires were handed out, one for the general public which consisted of a group of ten people and the other for doctors and medical students which consisted of a group of five. The ten people from the general public included family members, friends, school pupils and teachers. The medical students and doctors that were interviewed were familiar to me, as I knew them before. Questionnaires were handed out to the general public because they are inexperienced in this field of research and also to find out how many people know about stem cell research and the debate that surrounds it. Questionnaires were handed out to doctors and medical students because they are more aware and experienced in this field of research and to find out how stem cell research will benefit the medical field. Therefore there were two target groups, the doctors and medical students and the general public. There wasn't a specific age group that was interviewed as opinions of people from a variety of age groups were needed. The group of people that were handed out questionnaires in the general public group were of different occupations. The questionnaires aimed to find out how many people knew about stem cell research, their views on stem cell research, and whether or not they support embryonic stem cell research.

3.2. Secondary Research

The internet was consulted for information on stem cell research and the debate surrounding it. The most up to date information on stem cell research was found and articles about the most recent research into adult and embryonic stem cells. Two books were used, Fundamentals of the stem cell debate and Stem Cell Now which provided information about the ethical controversy surrounding stem cells especially embryonic stem cells. The Encyclopaedia was used to provide a general understanding of what stem cells are. An article from Fairlady August 2012 magazine was also used which provided recent news of stem cells. The article provided insight into the facilities that are available in South Africa to store stem cells as well as indicated that the general public are becoming more aware of the advantages of stem cells.

3.3. Questionnaire for the general public

Biology Research Project 2012

Topic: Are adult stem cells a more viable option for research than embryonic stem cells?

Stem cells are cells which have the ability to develop into any other cell, therefore they are specialised cells. There are two types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells, which can be found in 5 day old embryos and adult stem cells, which is found in humans.

'There is considerable controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells research (ESCR) because a living human embryo is killed in the process of harvesting the cells.  In contrast, adult stem cells can be harvested without a loss of life, and they are readily available from bone marrow, skin, fat, umbilical cord blood and other sources.'

(Bradley Mattes)

It is considered unethical to use embryos for stem cell research. But then again everyone has their own opinion.

Adult stem cell research is far ahead of embryonic stem cell research and has been used on patients for various procedures. Embryonic stem cells can be developed into any type of cell where as adult stem cells are organ specific. This is the one disadvantage of adult stem cells.

'Stem cell research may benefit many conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The new cells may be able to replace the damaged tissue.' (Dr Amin Abboud)

Name:

Do you think it is ethical to harvest embryos for stem cells which might benefit other humans with diseases? Why?

What is your opinion on stem cell research?

Do you think it is more valid to use adult stem cells than embryonic stem cells for research? Why?

Do you think stem cell research will be beneficial to the medical field in the future?

Do you think a 5 day embryo has the same moral status as a human being?

You are welcome to place any other comments on this topic below.

3.4. Questionnaire for doctors and medical students

Biology Research Project 2012

Topic: Are adult stem cells a more viable option for research than embryonic stem cells?

Stem cells are cells which have the ability to develop into any other cell, therefore they are specialised cells. There are two types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells, which can be found in 5 day old embryos and adult stem cells, which is found in humans.

'There is considerable controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells research (ESCR) because a living human embryo is killed in the process of harvesting the cells.  In contrast, adult stem cells can be harvested without a loss of life, and they are readily available from bone marrow, skin, fat, umbilical cord blood and other sources.'

(Bradley Mattes)

It is considered unethical to use embryos for stem cell research. But then again everyone has their own opinion.

Adult stem cell research is far ahead of embryonic stem cell research and has been used on patients for various procedures. Embryonic stem cells can be developed into any type of cell where as adult stem cells are organ specific. This is the one disadvantage of adult stem cells.

'Stem cell research may benefit many conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The new cells may be able to replace the damaged tissue.' (Dr Amin Abboud)

Name:

1. Do you think it is ethical to create embryos by IVF and then to destroy them after extracting the stem cells, even though it may benefit the medical field by curing some diseases? Why? (Provide a reason why you think it is ethical /unethical)

2. How do you feel about stem cell research personally and do you think it will prove to benefit the medical sciences in the future?

3. Which do you think is most viable for research adult or embryonic stem cells? Why?

4. Do you think a 5 day embryo has the same moral status as a human being?

5. As a future doctor/doctor of South Africa how do you think the stem cell research will benefit you and assist your profession?

6. Before this, did you know about the controversy raised by stem cell research and the benefits of them?

4. Process of Findings

4.1. Table 1

Table to show the opinions of subjects from two different groups on stem cell research

Group type

General public (10 subjects)

Medical students and doctors(5 subjects)

The ethics of harvesting embryos for stem cells. The viewpoint of whether a 5 day embryo has the same status as a human being.

Majority of the group said no it is unethical as they viewed a 5 day embryo as a human. A few said it is ethical as they saw improving a person's life as priority; these people did not view the 5 day embryo as a human. One person said that it depends on ones religious outlook.

Majority of the subjects thought it is ethical as you are curing a human of disease and these subjects do not give a 5 day old embryo the same status as a human being. A few thought it unethical as life begins with conception, therefore giving a 5 day old embryo the same status as a human being.

Is it more valid to use adult stem cells than embryonic stem cells for research

Majority of the group agreed that it is more valid to use adult stem cells for research as it avoids controversy and prevents the loss of a life. A few said that it is valid but the potential of embryonic stem cells cannot be ignored.

Half the subjects said that adult stem cells are more viable for research as they are not surrounded by ethical controversy as well as they are freely available. Adult stem cells also will be able 'to show the disease processes that have occurred' (Ramdass). The other subjects thought that embryonic stem cells were more viable for research as they are not tissue specific.

Opinions on stem cell research and the benefit it could have to the medical field

All the subjects of the group support stem cell research and can see the importance and benefit it could have to cure diseases and illnesses.

All the subjects support stem cell research even though it is a controversial issue. They see promising outcomes for stem cell research, as it will be able to cure some incurable diseases and illnesses. Stem cell research will benefit the medical field a lot.

Additional comments

Some additional comments are that every woman who bears a child should store their child's stem cells, so that embryos do not need to be destroyed in the future. The topic made some of the subjects think and aware of the potential of stem cells.

-

The benefits of stem cell research to your profession and how will stem cells assist you in your profession as a future doctor/doctor of South Africa. Before doing this questionnaire did you know about the controversy surrounding stem cell research?

All the subjects were aware of the controversy surrounding stem cell research but a few had not fully explored the issue. Stem cell research will assist the subjects to cure patients of diseases and illnesses. It will at first be costly and therefore only be available to a few people. Stem cell research will benefit patients and the opportunity to research other cures for incurable diseases.

4.2. Analysis of Table 1

4.3. Pie graph 1

The results from the questionnaires handed out to both groups support as well as contradict my hypothesis that adult stem cells are more viable for research than embryonic stem cells. Majority of the group said it is unethical to destroy embryos for stem cell research as they gave a 5 day old embryo the same status as a human being, as stated in the literature review these embryos should be treated in a respectable manner. By analysing the questionnaires, both the one for the general public and the one for medical students and doctors, it can be deduced that everyone has different beliefs of whether a 5 day old embryo should be given the same moral status as a human being depending on their religious and social outlook. Majority of the subjects from both groups thought it is more viable to use adult stem cells for research as it avoids controversy but a few subjects said that the potential of embryonic stem cells cannot be ignored as they aren't tissue specific. This does not support my literature review as adult stem cells have been used and has had a success rate of treatments where as embryonic stem cells have not had a success rate of treatments on patients. These results that embryonic stem cells are more viable for research does not support my hypothesis that adult stem cells are more viable than embryonic stem cells research. One of the subjects from the general public group suggested that parents store their children's stem cells when they are born, therefore this will decrease the amount of embryos destroyed for stem cell research. This suggestion supports the article from Fairlady August 2012 magazine, which is mentioned in the literature review.

4.4. Analysis of pie graph 1

The pie graph indicates that the majority of the subjects are against embryonic stem cell research as they see the destruction of an embryo as being unethical. A few of the subjects are for embryonic stem cell research as they find that there is more potential in embryonic stem cells and they do not regard a 5 day embryo as a human being. This pie graph supports my hypothesis that adult stem cells are more viable for research than embryonic stem cells as this graph indicates that majority of subjects from the general public group are against embryonic stem cell research.

4.5. Pie graph 2

4.6. Analysis of pie graph 2

The pie graph indicates that the majority of the subjects of this group are against embryonic stem cell research, and therefore see the 5 day old embryo with the same moral status as a human being. This supports my hypothesis that adult stem cells are more viable for research than embryonic stem cells. This pie graph in comparison to pie graph 1 has 10% more subjects who are for embryonic stem cell research, and therefore do not see the 5 day old embryo with the same moral status as a human being. This increase in a number of subjects in the group, medical students and doctors see the potential in embryonic stem cell research in the future. This contradicts my hypothesis that adult stem cells are more viable for research than embryonic stem cells. As stated in the literature review the article written by Alice Park shows a success in the usage of embryonic stem cells, therefore the increase in subjects in pie graph 2 that support embryonic stem cell research show that a potential is seen in adult embryonic stem cell research.

5. Conclusion

Therefore in conclusion, it can be said that adult stem cells are more viable for research than embryonic stem cell research but embryonic stem cell research cannot be ignored. Therefore the hypothesis was partially proved wrong. As seen in the literature review there is potential for embryonic stem cells to cure diseases but more research will have to be done in the area. Adult stem cell research is way ahead of embryonic stem cell research as well as has a high success rate of treatments till date. Many people and medical professionals are against embryonic stem cell research, as seen in the literature review and process of findings, because of the ethical controversy surrounding it. The primary research was limited by the number of subjects questioned due to the time limit. More subjects could have been questioned in both groups to provide a broader knowledge on their opinions about stem cell research. The limitation in this research project were access to professional guidance, as there are no researchers in the area that are involved in stem cell research, time limit, as well as support from medical professionals as some did not have time to complete the questionnaire.

6. Bibliography

Abboud,A. date unknown.The stem cell debate.Retrieved 1 July 2012.http://www.australasianbioethics.org/Media/stemcells-3.pdf

Andrusko, D. 16 February 2012. Use of patients own stem cells could regenerate damaged heart muscle after heart attacks. Retrieved 1 July 2012. .http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2012/02/use-of-patients-own-stem-cells-could-regenerate-damaged-heart-muscle-after-heart-attacks/

Atmore,E.2012. Stem cells the new miracle cure?.Fairlady,pp 63-64

Firpo,M. 2009.Stem cells.World book encyclopedia,18,889

Harman,E.2007.How is the ethics of stem cell research different from the ethics of abortion.08/07/2012. http://www.princeton.edu/~eharman/stemcellresearch.pdf

Mattes,B. 2009.Embryonic Versus Adult Stem Cells? It's Really No Contest.Retrieved 28 June 2012.www.lifeissues.org/cloningHYPERLINK "http://www.lifeissues.org/cloningstemcell/bradsarticle.html"stemcellHYPERLINK "http://www.lifeissues.org/cloningstemcell/bradsarticle.html"/HYPERLINK "http://www.lifeissues.org/cloningstemcell/bradsarticle.html"bradHYPERLINK "http://www.lifeissues.org/cloningstemcell/bradsarticle.html"sarticle.html

Monroe,K&Miller,R.B. &Tobis,J. 2008. Stem cell debate. London:University of California press. pp. 66, 81.82,103,104

Murnaghan,I. 22 May 2012. Adult VS embryonic stem cells. Retrieved 30 June 2012.http://www.explorestemcells.co.uk/AdultVSEmbryonicStemCells.html

Murnaghan,I. 22 May 2012. Adult Stem Cells.Retrieved 30 June 2012.http://www.explorestemcells.co.uk/AdultStemCells.html

Padraig. 21 June 2012. All about stem cells and the brain. Retrieved 24/09/2012. http://www.stemcellsuniverse.info/all-about-stem-cells-the-brain/

Park,A. 24 January 2012. Early success in human embryonic stem cell trial to treat blindness. Retrieved 24/09/2012. http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/24/early-success-in-a-human-embryonic-stem-cell-trial-to-treat-blindness/

Prentice,A.2012.Adult Stem Cell Treatments Move Ahead, Embryonic Stem Cells Fall Farther Behind. Retrieved 5 July 2012.http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2012/05/adult-stem-cell-treatments-move-ahead-embryonic-stem-cells-fall-farther-behind/

Unknown.2010.Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).Retrieved 5 July 2012.http://www.stemcellcentre.edu.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/FactSheets/Fact%20Sheet%207%20-%20Induced%20Pluripotent%20Stem%20Cells.pdf

Unknown.2012.Stem cell basics.Retrieved 5 July 2012.http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics4.asp

Unknown.2010.Types of stem cells.Retrieved 5 July 2012.http://www.stemcellcentre.edu.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/FactSheets/Fact%20Sheet%202%20-%20Types%20of%20Stem%20Cells.pdf

Unknown.2010.What are stem cells?.Retrieved 5 July 2012. http://www.stemcellcentre.edu.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/FactSheets/Fact%20Sheet%201%20-%20What%20are%20Stem%20Cells.pdf

Scott,C. 2006. Stem cell now.London:Plume p.125-126

7. Appendix 1

First draft

Questionnaires

Summaries of research