Stem-cell research?

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Emma_85
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Stem-cell research?

Post by Emma_85 » Sat Nov 06, 2004 10:45 am

Now I know this is a very difficult subject to discuss as I imagine some people's emotions might be very strong on this subject, but it's also very interesting and relevant for the world we live in today. Many countries have approved stem-cell research and are already looking to cure many diseases.
This raises many questions I think. No only if it is morally correct, although that is of fundamental importance too, but also if it is then morally correct to use the cures other countries come up with. Let me put it this way. what if the US government bans all stem-cell research, but in China they don’t and find a cure for cancer (or some other disease), will this cure for cancer be banned in the US, so depriving all citizens from the cure, or will it be allowed as it's not American embryos that are being killed but Chinese ones (probably from some poor people)? Or will the cure only be available to rich private patients and all the poor can just die?
i.e. can rich countries really just allow themselves to say: urgh, we don't want to do experiments on embroys, we'll let poorer countries do it for us?

Why is stem-cell research going to be banned anyway? Abortions are allowed and so is IVF treatment (many eggs are ‘produced’ and only a few used, the rest killed). Both abortions and IVF treatment do not really benefit the whole population as much as the possible results of stem-cell research, so shouldn’t they be banned too if stem-cell research is banned because of being morally wrong?
I don’t think anyone will ban IVF treatment though, so in an ideal world the left over embryos, which are going to be killed anyway, could be used for stem-cell research, that way you don’t have any more embryos being destroyed than before and at the same time the population stand to benefit.

I understand that some Christians believe that yes, IVF, abortions and stem-cell research must all be banned. But don’t you think it’s strange that there is all this commotion about stem-cell research, when IVF kills much more embryos? Or is there is fact a huge lobby to ban IVF in the US too and I just haven’t heard of it before? Just wondering why it is that IVF is allowed and not banned but stem-cell research so criticized.
You can tell I think, that if one thing should be banned in my opinion it is IVF treatment not stem-cell research. Yes, sure couples which can’t have any kids are probably really unhappy, but hey, there are adoption services. So I’m not sure why people are so up in arms about stem-cell research when millions of embryos are being killed through IVF treatment and there is the option of using these embryos for scientific research.
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Post by classicalclarinet » Sat Nov 06, 2004 7:41 pm

I do not beleive there is a huge anti-IVF lobby.Stem cell research is not banned, but not funded properly. So the question lacks pith, but still a pretty good one. I've not read the paper in a few days yet ("FOUR MORE YEARS" and my blood curdles) but I have not heard about moves to ban it.

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Post by Emma_85 » Sat Nov 06, 2004 9:53 pm

Oh, I thought Bush was going to ban it. Hmm... maybe I should not believe everything I read online :wink: , maybe that was just wishful thinking of one of the Bush-supporters. I think you are right though, I'm getting really mixed up. :(

Better wait and see what Bush really does.

Edit:
Ok, I've read up a bit on the US government's approach to stem-cell research in a copy of the Scientific American. Research can only be carried out on certain sanctioned samples and apparently those "cells lines are fewer than promised and have many limitations and may be unsuitable for future therapeutic applications." "A conspicuously missing partner in that progress is the U.S. government."

It's just that Kerry was saying how he'd make it all legal and so on and all the Bush supporters attacking that and saying how Bush would do everything differently that confused me into thinking Bush was going to ban it completely. Seems from the current government policy that he's as yet undecided really. No ban, but no great aid or funding or anything like that really either.
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Post by Rhuiden » Sun Nov 07, 2004 1:44 am

There are currently around 70-75 lines available for stem cell research. Of those, I think I heard that 20 or so of them are being used. Bush's position is that these lines were already active when he was elected so he decided not to stop them but that no more should be started.

I have heard that these stem cells can come from various sources, not just murdered unborn children. If this is true, then it is appalling not to acquire them from these other sources. Also, it is only speculation that these cells will lead to the cures for anything.

The question about whether or not US citizens should use the cure (if one was to be found) discovered from stem cell research in another country presents an interesting ethical dilema. I will have to think on this a bit before answering.

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Post by classicalclarinet » Sun Nov 07, 2004 1:50 am

If this is true, then it is appalling not to acquire them from these other sources.
If medical reasrchers thought that adult stem cell lines were more promising, then why would they use controversial fetal lines? :wink:

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Post by Democritus » Sun Nov 07, 2004 2:29 am

Emma_85 wrote:Oh, I thought Bush was going to ban it.
Sometimes in the media people talk about "stem cell research," when what they really have in mind is "embryonic stem cell research." The controversy is about the embryos, not stem cells per se. There are other sorts of stem cells, apparently. But some researchers want to focus on embryonic stem cells.

Here in California they just passed a statewide initiative to put three billion dollars into stem cell research. I voted against it, because they are paying for it with bonds, which means more debt for the state. I haven't really examined the ethical side of stem cell research, but for this bond intitiative, it didn't matter, since I'm opposed to almost all government debts, and certainly opposed to any additional debt for California. California should cut up its credit cards immediately. :(

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Post by classicalclarinet » Sun Nov 07, 2004 3:32 am

wow. 3 billion. with that you could literally buy a small country.

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Post by Emma_85 » Sun Nov 07, 2004 1:58 pm

Yes, I did read about the Californian ballot.
:-) at last I have a subscription number and a password for NewScientist online archive. I'll just check up about the differences between embryonic stem-cells, stem-cells from clones and adult stem-cells.
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Post by EmptyMan » Sun Nov 07, 2004 2:19 pm

The argument most people use for fetus-harvesting(litteral term for "stem-cell" research)) is that the kid is going to die anyway why not use his stem-cells? If someone were killing my next door-neigbors left and right I would have two chocies, to benefit from it and steal their belongings or to to do the right thing and try to stop the killings.

We have the same 2 choices on abortion, do we turn a blind eye to murder(def. of murder is killing a human and a fetus is at all points of devel. a human)and harvest their organs for our benefit, or we can do the right thing, if you consider it right not to kill humans, and try to stop the killing.

Humans love getting away with things if they can justify it. So we will continue to steal from our neighbors and helpless fetus' after they die, "I mean, they are dead, why do they need that for." Such a sad day when people try to justify hravesting dead children like grape orchards.

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Post by Emma_85 » Sun Nov 07, 2004 2:25 pm

Other scientists are focusing their efforts on embryonic stem cells, as they believe only these are versatile enough to give rise to all the tissues of the body. By using the right growth factors, it seems possible to nudge embryonic stem cells down different pathways to become any tissue type at all. The stem cells come either from spare embryos left over from infertility treatments, or in some cases from deliberately created ones.

[...]

But any research involving embryos is massively controversial, whether they are deliberately created ones, IVF spares, or clones. The issue is centre-stage in the US general election, with right-wing anti-abortion groups firmly against any research involving embryonic stem cells (see US election special, this issue).
NewScientist
For some envisioned therapies, it might nonetheless be useful to briegly create an embryonic clone of an adult for the purpose of extracting stem cells.
sciam

As for countries already investing heavily in stem-cell research, for one there's Singapore:
[...] ES Cell International was another obvious choice for Biopolis. Along with cancer and infectious disease studies, embryonic (and adult) stem cell research is a must-have for the BMRC. Alan Colman, chief scientific officer at ES Cell International and a co-creator of Dolly the sheep, came to Singapore in 2002 in large part because the government was willing to invest in the company. "There was finance available here which was quite frankly impossible to get elsewhere," he says.

Singapore also has a solid history of breakthrough stem cell work. In 1994, for instance, a group led by Ariff Bongso of the state's National University Hospital was the first to successfully isolate embryonic stem cells, and Patrick Tan of the Singapore General Hospital has pioneered transplants of blood-forming stem cells from bone marrow to treat diseases such as aplastic anaemia.

And as well as actively encouraging stem cell research, Singapore is "permissive" compared with countries such as the US. Legislation very similar to that in the UK, which allows stem cells to be extracted from cloned embryos up to 14 days old, was passed by parliament on 2 September. Though until then, says Colman, "people assumed that these rules and regulations were already in existence". He hopes that within a year his team will be able to cure diabetic animals using stem cells that develop into insulin-producing islet cells. And for basic research to support this work, Colman can call not only on his own team but on publicly funded researchers. A fifth of Colman's salary is paid by the new Centre for Molecular Medicine, set up to translate research into treatments. [...]
NewScientist

What are stem cells?
Unlike the vast majority of cells in the body, which are "specialised" as neurons, muscle or bone, say, stem cells are blank slates that can develop into many different tissue types and renew themselves indefinitely.

The early embryo consists of a ball of stem cells. As these multiply, increasing numbers specialise or "differentiate" into various tissues to form the developing organs, although a small number remain in the body as semi-specialised stem cells, even into adulthood. Bone marrow is a rich source of adult stem cells that produce blood cells, as these need to be constantly replenished throughout life. And various other tissues such as muscle and brain seem to have small numbers of adult stem cells with limited repair capacity.
It seems that you can use adult stem-cell sometimes, but they ae increadibly difficult to find so actually you can only use ones from embryos or create clones, which has the huge benefit that the stem-cells then match the patients DNA. It seems that it should be quite easy to just pass a law saying that the embryonic stem-cells should only come from left over embroys from IVF treatments, but then you are left with the difficulty of those who want to use stem-cells from clones.
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