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					Embryonic Stem Cell Research                                                                  EES101

EES101- Assignment 1-Project Proposal

Group Members: Jonathan Collins, Claire Hancox, Tarik So, Patrea Smith

Topic: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research, in particular embryonic stem cell research is an area of study that faces many
advantages and disadvantages. “Stem cells are special cells that have the ability to divide for an
indefinite period and can give rise to a wide variety of specialised cells.” (Joseph Panno, 2003)
Because of this fact they have many applications but are fraught with the social and ethical

The importance of this area of science, in particular chemistry and biology, is due to the fact that the
audience at which they are targeted at is so vast. The audience involved in research is first and for
most the general public as they are the ones that will want to know particular progress and some
people could be directly affected by potential solutions to diseases found but also to be well
informed that it isn’t all positive. Then there are people directly affected such as doctors who are
obliged to keep up to date with new and exciting research as well as the stakeholders who are
involved in giving large sums of money in order for the progress to happen.
“Stem cell research is tightly governed by federal laws introduced first in 2002. Since then just 12
projects have been granted licenses needed for scientists to begin their work.” (Rose, 2011)

 Stem cells, in particular human embryonic cells, have resulted in much debate. On one hand the
profound advantages with this ever increasing field are near endless in terms of the medical
applications involved. The main areas that are seen to be advantageous are research into
regeneration of damaged cardiac tissue, bone and marrow regeneration, kidney and lung disease,
Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease and multiple scleroses (Joseph Panno, 2005)
These areas of study are particularly important in people’s lives as the effects of these diseases can
be often life changing or life threatening. Alongside these scientific benefits in terms of finding cures
and preventions to diseases, the social economic benefits that could be reaped from a society could
be positive. (Experiment Resources, 2009)

On the contrary, many defined people in society, including well accomplished scientists, believe that
stem cell research involving unborn embryos is unethical and morally wrong. Many people see stem
cell research in this light. There is a link between the science and how the processes work and the
social implications associated. If there was such a way to extract embryonic cells without the ethical
issues then there would be less of an issue. Narelle Towie (2010) describes embryonic stem cell
research as “playing God” and having the ability to choose some human life over others. This is due
to the fact that much of the research that takes place in accordance with embryos results in the
“death of an embryo.” (Narelle Towie) This poses the question of whether progression in research is
more important or whether the loss of embryo’s in the progress is to detrimental in outweighing the
pros associated.

Although there has been continued controversy into human embryonic stem cell research, others
stem cells have been found to be useful in positive research that does not involve the killing or
harming of an embryo. Andy Coghlan wrote on the 10th of January, 208 that “For the first time,
human embryonic stem cells have been obtained without having to destroy the embryo’s they came

Embryonic Stem Cell Research                                                                    EES101

from.” This was a major step in the right direction which provides further positives for research and
takes steps in the direction of being ethically sound.

Regarding the science techniques and concepts involved in human embryonic stem cell research,
they are ever expanding. The process of using embryonic cells by them being able to differentiate
into other is an important feature. The fertilized egg is known as the ultimate stem cell because it is
totipotent, which means that it can give rise to an entire organism and differentiate into a variety of
different cells. (Joseph Panno, 2007) This is as opposed to multi potent cells which can only give rise
(differentiate) into a few type of cells. (Panno) Embryonic stem cells can be either totipotent or multi
potent. (Panno)

Panno (2007) illustrates the fact that the earlier the embryo cell is taken the higher the degree of
plasticity it has. The reason for the use of human embryonic stem cells as opposed to human adult
stem cells is that the plasticity of embryonic cells is greater. The plasticity of a cell is related to its
ability to change or differentiate into a variety of different cells. This means that from when a cell
first comes into life, it has a greater plasticity then 5 days on when it is 5 days older. This means that
as an embryonic cell (also known as a blastomere) ages, its goes from being totipotent at the egg
stage to being multi or pluripotent which means it has much less ability to change into a variety of
specialised cells. (Panno)

The growing of the stem cells is known as cell culture and is often done in a laboratory. (National
Institute of Health, 2010)

Concept Map

Annotated Bibliography (APA format)

        Australian Government. (???). Stem Cell Research in Australia. Retrieved April
        6th,2011, from
       This website highlights the fact that stem cell research is an ever growing and positive field.
       It also highlights some major applications involved in stem cells such as bone marrow
       regeneration and kidney disease.

        Coghlan, A. (2008). Stem Cell breakthrough Leaves Embryo Unharmed. Retrieved March
        27th, 2011, from
        This article on New Scientist explains the different ways in which stem cells can be extracted
        without destroying the embryos from which they were taken with the added ethical
        benefits. It described how only a single embryonic cell is taken leaving the embryo to
        function properly and not harm it.

        Bagaric, M. & McConvill, J. (2003). Embryonic Stem Cell Research: The Principle Ethical Issue-
        When Does Life Begin?, 12(1)
        This journal article provides a point of view into the matter of when life actually starts. This
        is important due to the ethical and moral debate and could be important in deducing
        whether research in this way should continue.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research                                                                EES101

       Experiment Resources. (2009). Stem Cell Research- Pros and Cons. Retrieved 6th April, 2011,

       Ezzone, S. & Schmit-Pokorny., K. (2007). Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transportation.
       Sudbury (Massachusetts): Jones and Barlett Publishing.
       Stem cell book that describes the ways in which stem cells can be identified for
       transplantation, selection of a transplant centre as well as the process of transplanting. It
       also states the sources of stem cells.

       Gruen, L. (2007). Stem Cell Research: The Ethical Issues. Oxford: Balckwell Publishing .
       A book that deals with the ethical issues associated with stem cell research. It stresses
       particular worry associated with destroying embryos and the effect this has on a society. Is
       poses a major question about the pro’s being worth the con’s.

       Healey, J. (2003). Stem Cell Research. Rozelle: The Spiney Press.
       A book that describes the different types of stem cells and the applications of each. It also
       states the importance of ethics. Society and social implications are considered.

       Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (2009). Method to Neutralize Tumour Growth in Embryonic
       Stem Cell Therapy Discovered. Retreived on 6th April, 2011, from
       This particular article focuses on one aspect of Embryonic stem cell therapy. Although this
       work is positive it has some drawbacks such as the stem cells creating a cancer themselves
       when being implemented into mice.

       Lehrman, S. (2010). Undifferentiated Ethics: Why Stem Cells from Adult Skin are as Morally
       Fraught as Embryonic Stem Cells. Retrieved April 3rd, 2011, from
       Undifferentiated ethics shows how the new research of stem cells from adult cells is not as
       positive and morally correct as first thought. Transformed cells (induced pluripotent cells)
       provide positive progress but involve experimentation that involves killing embryos.

       Massarani, L. (2010). Reporting Embryonic Stem Cell Science. Retrieved 6th April, 2011, from

       National Institute of Health. (2010). Stem Cell Basics. Retrieved April 3rd, 2011, from
       This website provide easy to understand basic information on stem cells including what they
       are, how they are grown, identification and differentiation.

       Panno, J. (2005). Stem Cell Research: Medical Applicatons and Ethical Controversy. New York:
       Facts on File, Inc.
       This book deals with the applications and processes of how stem cells work as well as some

Embryonic Stem Cell Research                                                                EES101

       ethical controversy information. It explains the medical applications (In particular human
       stem cells) but more importantly stresses the fact that the research is all positive in theory
       but offers the audience a “reality check” and look deeper into the efficiency.

       Rose, D. (2011). Stem Cell Research Mired In Red Tape. Retrieved March 27th,2011, from
       This reference is in the form of an online article. It is dealing with the issue of stem cell
       research and whether or not it is accessable enough for scientists to undergo studies in.
       “Stem cell research is tightly governed by federal laws introduced first in 2002. Since then
       just 12 projects have been granted licences needed for scientists to begin their work.”

       Towie, N. (2010). The Arguments For and Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Retrieved
       on April 2nd, 2011, from
       This online article shows and emphasizes the importance of stem cell research. It then gives
       specific facts regarding embryonic stem cells and sufficient arguments for and against

       Wang, J., Alexander, P., Wu, L., Hammer, R., Cleaver, O. & McKnight, S.L. (2009).
       Dependence of Mouse Embryotic Stem Cells on Threonine Catabolism. Science, 325(5939),
       A specific journal article that looks at a particular embryonic with respect to the abundance
       common metabolites in embryonic stem cell culture.

       White, D. (2009). Pros and Cons of Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Retrieved April 2nd, 2011,
       Focuses particularly on embryonic stem cell applications and implications. Explains different
       applications for curing diseases such as diabetes and cancer. It makes particular reference to
       the fact that both sides for and against research are warranted in some way.


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