Topic Background Information (embryonic stem cell research):
First passed in 1996, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibited any federal funding to research which destroyed human embryos. In response to this amendment was the famous Sherley v. Sebelious case which used a two-step approach, called a “Chevron” approach to determine if the amendment was reasonable and lawful. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment, as well as the Sherley v. Sebelious case, seems to be well hidden by a veil of ambiguity and legal jargon which stems from the moral dilemma facing the use of human embryos in research. President Obama’s proposal, which would move to overturn this amendment, thus allowing for the utilization of human embryos to conduct stem cell research was met with heavy criticism and viewed skeptically under the pretense that viable stem cell research can be conducted without the use of embryos.
However, in this paper I will show that stem cells derived from human embryos are not only more easily accessible but also yield a higher potential for research capabilities. My sources confirm that embryonic stem cell research is currently the most reliable means in the field of regenerative medicine including many types of cancers, neurological diseases, spinal injuries as well as even regeneration of lost limbs. Many of the lawmakers have only noted the seeming gruesome nature of the field while overlooking the obvious benefits. Stem cells have been proven to have the ability to rejuvenate damaged tissue as well as the creation of entirely new tissues and it is widely believed that these methods are superior to conventional methods because they carry a far less mild “risk-benefit profile”.
Effectiveness of Embryonic stem cells:
The effectiveness of ES cells can no longer be argued, it has been proven countless times that embryonic stem cells have the unique ability to regenerate damaged or lost tissues. By placing these stem cells near the damaged or missing tissue, the patient’s DNA takes over the blank cell and instructs it to duplicate the surrounding cells with surprising accuracy. Embryonic stem cells are the most effective type of stem cells because they are able to duplicate any and all cells from any tissue in the body, including neural tissue which was previously thought to be impossible. In the nearly two decades since the ban was placed on this type of research regenerative medicine has made huge leaps in bounds in both technology and practical application of medical knowledge, the potential of ES cells is truly limitless.
Why Use Embryonic Cells:
There are many innovative ways to derive stem cells from tissues, including the derivation of cells from the living host, these methods are allowed according to the Dickey-Wicker Amendment but are not as effective as the derivation of cells from an embryo. These methods are considered moral because they do not destroy any tissue, coinciding with a crucial pillar of medicine which is “Primum non nocere” or “first do no harm”. However, embryonic stem (ES) cells are different from other stem cells in that they are far more pluripotent, in that they are able to give rise to all types of tissues across all three germ layers when allowed to differentiate. Other methods are harvesting stem cells do not yield these results and are therefore inferior to embryonic harvest.
The counterintuitive nature of the stem cell debacle is the fact that just because one stage of the research process destroys an embryo, it is not given adequate funding despite the potential to save millions of lives. Due to ill-informed congressmen involved and outdated morality we allow millions to die. It is counterintuitive that a deceased “human” embryo, which will be disposed of regardless, is protected in such a way that allows countless other humans to live with limited mobility or on the edge of impending death.
Results of Unjust Laws and Skewed Morality:
As I touched on earlier, the main reason for which embryonic stem cell research has been dismissed is the moral factor of using human derived cells. Not given the proper tools to evaluate the science behind this type of research, many reject embryonic stem cell research because it involves destroying a human embryo. However according to current abortion laws an embryo is not living and its role in research this may lead to saving lives. Embryonic stem cell research is viewed in an immoral light because its benefits versus moral implications have not been accurately evaluated.
Potential Uses of Embryonic Stem Cells:
According to US News Health, there is an incredible range of diseases and ailments that stem cells stand to cure in the very near future. Among these is heart disease which is currently the number one cause of death in this country. Also listed are diabetes, lung diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Given the funding this field of regenerative medicine stands to cure or ease the burdens of almost everything ranging from arthritis to severe and debilitating spinal cord injuries.
Topics for Smaller Papers:
There are a few different directions that I could go with this, one of which is examine purely the argument whether or not destroying an embryo is destroying a human juxtaposed to the abortion laws which do not consider an embryo living. Another approach for a smaller paper is narrowing down my argument as purely moral or purely scientific. One other paper might be detailing the legal issues this type of research has faced.
Current State of the Research Paper:
My research paper is still mainly in the research phase, as there is so much conflicting information on the topic and I discover something new nearly every time I do more research. I do have the general format of my paper figured out which will flow from background information, to the legality of it, examining the morality of it briefly before delving into the necessity of embryonic stem cell research, noting the many diseases it stands to cure and why it is superior to other methods. I also still need more information on the legal side of things.
Pending your feedback I will start the full paper. As of now I have very few subtopics compared to the polio white paper but I will expand upon these thoroughly, I have tried to avoid “fluff” material which gave me a little less volume. I can howver always add more subtopics in exchange for some depth if that would be better.