Stem cell research holds great promise in the world of medicine. Stem cells are usually taken from discarded fetuses, (in other words, aborted), and used in many aspects of disease control. The cells have the potential to grow new hearts, new kidneys, and new spinal tissue, even new retinas. The reason is that by manipulating the genetic structure they can be turned into any kind of cell, even brain tissue.
Stem cells have a blank genetic footprint. They can be turned into any kind of cell in the human body. A kidney that is made from stem cells won’t be rejected by the recipient like a donor kidney. The same applies to other organs in the human body. Now transplant patients must play a delicate game of taking enough anti-rejection drugs to weaken their immune systems so they won’t reject the organ. On the other hand, they must not take too much.
It has even been said that stem cells can help erase the world’s hunger problem. Say you want a piece of lamb. You can simply grow the lamb tissue in a machine and have all of the disease-free fresh lamb that you want. And no animals have to be slaughtered.
So why has embryonic research been so slow? Because some Republicans and religious people, (the Catholic Church, for example), say that using discarded fetuses is akin to abortion and that is murder in their eyes. They even say that more women will get abortions if the research is allowed to go ahead. President Bush signed a bill that would limit federal funds being used for stem cell research.
But now Obama has let the research go forward. There’s one area of research that will satisfy both camps, and that is adult stem cell research. Adult stem cells are cells that are taken from your own body, not from fetal tissue. According to Yahoo News: “A few months ago, Dr. Thomas Einhorn was treating a patient with a broken ankle that wouldn’t heal, even with multiple surgeries. So he sought help from the man’s own body.”
“Einhorn drew bone marrow from the man’s pelvic bone with a needle, condensed it to about four teaspoons of rich red liquid, and injected that into his ankle. Four months later the ankle was healed. Einhorn, chairman of orthopedic surgery at Boston University Medical Center, credits “adult” stem cells in the marrow injection. He tried it because of published research from France.”
Research in adult stem cells is far ahead of embryonic ones. Adult stem cells are being tested in human trials today. Scientists now say that embryonic stem cells will probably be used more in the laboratory to learn about disease processes, while adult stem cells will actually be used to grow new tissue and fight disease.