Embryonic Stem Cell
Why must it continue?
Presented by: Alvin Bulahan, Areum
Kang, William Dizon
Goals of Stem Cell Research
A primary goal of this work is to identify how undifferentiated
stem cells become differentiated.
The most important potential application of human stem cells is
the generation of cells and tissues that could be used for cell-
These cells could be used for curing debilitating diseases, e.g.,
Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, stroke, spinal cord injuries,
etc.; and screening drugs for pharmaceutical companies, instead
of having to rely on animal models.
What are stem cells?
These cells are capable of dividing and
renewing themselves for extended
They are unspecialized cells.
They can give rise to specialized cell
Internal and External signals which
control cell differentiation.
1. Internal signals - are controlled by a cell's
genes, which are scattered across strands of
DNA, and carry instructions for all the
structures and functions of a cell.
2. External signals – for cell differentiation,
include chemicals secreted by other cells,
physical contact with neighboring cells, and
certain molecules in the environment.
Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that
develop from eggs which have been fertilized in vitro,
in an in vitro fertilization clinic, and then donated for
The embryos are typically four or five days old and are
a hollow microscopic ball of cells.
Ultimately the embryos are destroyed, at the time which
the stem cells are isolated.
Human embryos alive or not?
Dr. James Sherley
Professor at MIT
“Despite the confusion that some like to create on the
questions of “are embryos human beings?” and “when
does a human life begin?”, both scientists and physicians
know very well that human embryos are alive and human.
A human life begins when a diploid complement of
human DNA is initiated to begin human development.”
“The embryonic, fetal, infant, child and adolescent
stages are stages of development of a determinate and
enduring entity -- a human being.” - Robert P. George, a
member of the President's Council on Bioethics
If we know that embryos are human beings, then why
does embryonic stem cell research continue?
Knowing that embryos are human beings, further
argues the fact that embryonic stem cell research is
both morally and ethically wrong.
Is stem cell research ethical?
World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki
United Nations Declaration of Human Rights
Is stem cell research ethical? Cont’
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
A non profit organization founded in 1975
The ethical problem of human embryonic stem cell research is
the source of the cells. Living human embryos must be destroyed
in the process of taking their stem cells. It is never ethically
acceptable to intentionally destroy a human being, no matter
An ethic which condones research using human embryos
violates the standard ethical principle in medicine of non-
maleficence. It devaluates human life, damages the integrity of
science and medicine, and degrades society as a whole.
Other methods exists in which stem cells could
Skin and Fat
Adult stem cells
Bone marrow stem cells
In addition to the morality of it attention should also
be paid to its practicality.
Dive Into Some Truth
Moral debate on stem cell research is abundant, yet a different
approach to looking at stem cell research is just as, if not more,
important in considering the ethics to it.
While public opinions clash, the actual science of stem cell
research has been assumed to be flawless in their eyes, and
supporters of stem cell research point to all the medical
advantages of stem cell transplantation in their arguments for it.
Virtually everyone fighting stem cell research battles the claim of
numerous medical benefits with moral and religious beliefs.
There are significant disadvantages to
embryonic stem cell transplantation and
potential dangers to those procedures
that are being overlooked.
Questioning the ethics of stem cell
research is even more imperative when
the fact that there are an array of
problems with the procedure, as well as
medical side effects, is considered along
with the moral arguments.
Stem cell research can be very strongly
opposed on the basis of its SCIENCE,
which should be analyzed by the public
much more than it has been so far.
What caused the initial excitement over stem cell research was
that, in culture, extracted embryonic stem cells kept the ability to
grow into a number of various cell types when supplied with the
This led to all the theories of the replacement of targeted cells,
and growing back needed tissues, for example, which sparked
enormous public interest.
While these theories are hopeful and exciting, the quest to find
the right signals that induce the formation of targeted tissues
from embryonic stem cells has been extremely difficult and still
going on today.
Excitement surrounds the
totipotency concept of
embryonic stem cells – their
ability to grow into any of the
mature cell types of the body.
For example, embryonic
stem cells placed in a
damaged kidney and given
the proper signals would
grow into kidney cells and
generate new kidney tissue.
There exists the questionability of the totipotency of
stem cells in culture, and whether they would retain that
property as well as they do in the body before they are
In addition to the difficulty of finding the right signals
to induce those implanted stem cells to grow into
kidney tissue, there is also the danger of the cells
themselves acting differently after being first cultured
and artificially induced instead of being signaled
There may be a chance that the cells hardly or DO NOT act
like kidney cells at all physiologically.
Quotes on Totipotency
“Among the major obstacles is the difficulty of getting
embryonic stem cells – master cells that generate every tissue in
the human body – to become exactly the type of cell one
wants… Scientists…haven’t been able to guarantee purity – cells,
for instance, that are destined to become muscle cells and
- Jonathan Bor, Baltimore Sun
“It is extremely laborious to keep to keep embryonic cells
growing, well-nourished and stable in the lab so they don’t die or
turn into a cell type with less potential.”
- Tony Blau, Stem-cell Researcher, University of Washington
Transplantation and Immunology
The same immunological issues
associated with organ
transplantation also apply to stem
cells, since generally cells from one
individual will be placed into
Rejection of the cells would still be
very possible, where they would
eventually be targeted and
destroyed by the immune system.
Stem cells would most likely
provide only a temporary solution
instead of a permanent cure.
Dangers in Circumvention
To get around the immunological barriers, scientists have
proposed to genetically engineer the embryonic stem cells to
produce a better match with the individual receiving them.
The procedure is very risky in that mutations may occur and produce
potentially dangerous effects once the stem cells are implanted in the
Another idea has been for a bank of human embryos, much like
a blood bank, to be created so that there can be a variety of stem
cells with different immune characteristics that can be matched
to the appropriate patients.
This would only fuel the moral argument against stem cell research to an
extremely elevated level, since embryos may eventually be produced
SOLELY for the use of research and not because they were previously
unused by pregnancy methods.
Quotes on Practicality
“ES [embryonic stem] cells and their derivatives carry
the same likelihood of immune rejection as a
transplanted organ because, like all cells, they carry the
surface proteins, or antigens, by which the immune
system recognizes invaders. Hundreds of combinations
of different types of antigens are possible, meaning that
hundreds of thousands of ES cell lines might be needed
to establish a bank of cells with immune matches for
most potential patients. Creating that many lines could
require millions of discarded embryos from IVF
clinics.” - R. Lanza and N. Rosenthal, “The Stem Cell
Challenge,” Scientific American
Stem Cells in Culture
There is undeniably a vast array of non-molecular
factors that exist within a complete embryo that plays a
role in stem cell differentiation and development
The task of replicating all these factors to the EXACT
degree so as to get the perfect results from the targeted
stem cells presents a highly improbable goal.
Even more danger exists in incomplete activation of the
stem cells -
Implanting these abnormal cells could lead to the
uncontrolled rapid growth of deadly tumors starting in the
implant site called tetromas.
Problems on both ends
Not only is proper
stimulation to encourage
the targeted type of
but controlling the
growth of the cells and
being able to stop them
without causing harm to
the patient would pose
an even more difficult
The ethics against stem cell research are clearly backed by issues of practicality
and danger in its procedures as well as the immorality of it.
There has not been nearly enough success in similar experimentation methods
in animals, so shifting the focus toward human embryos is hardly called for.
Stem cell research should also be discouraged by the fact that a breadth of
safer and less morally controversial alternatives that have the same benefit
hopes do exist, and have in fact been met with significant success.
“Embryonic stem cells have too many limitations, including immune rejection and
the potential to form tumors, to ever achieve acceptance in our lifetime. By that
time, umbilical cord blood stem cells will have been shown to be a true ‘gift from
the gods.’” – Dr. Roger Markwald, Medical University of South Carolina
What is Cord Blood?
Also known as the “placental blood”
blood that remains in the umbilical cord and
placenta following birth and after the cord is cut
a valuable source of stem cells
How to collect the cord blood
patient will bring the cord blood collection kit to the
hospital at the time of the delivery
After the baby has been born and the cord has been
clamped and cut, the blood will be drawn from the
umbilical cord into a syringe or blood bag by the doctor
It can be performed in vaginal or cesarean deliveries
and for multiple births
No effect on normal delivery procedure
Why are cord blood stem cells
different from others?-1
No ethical issues involved like the embryonic
stem cell research
Adult stem cells serve very specialized roles -
not as proliferate as cord blood cells
More opportunity for transplants between
Significantly less transplant rejection
Why are cord blood stem cells
different from others?-2
Cord blood collection is easy and risk-free
Cord blood is collected in advance, tested, and
stored frozen, ready to use – immediate
Cord blood doesn’t require a perfect match
unlike bone marrow - better chance for a
What are the choices?
Throw it away
The unit must be large enough (typically three to
five fluid ounces)
The maternal and family health history must
meet eligibility guidelines
Tests of the cord blood unit and the mother's
blood sample must show no signs of infection
or other possible problems
Can help others in Donated cord blood
need cell is not reserved for
Provides Higher your family
chance of match due Some donated cord
to the potential of the blood unit cannot be
cord blood cells stored in the public
Not many public
Provides the perfect Costs involved to
match for the child bank privately
Eliminating the risks Generally, one time
of rejection enrollment fees
Can be used to treat Annual storage fees.
family members too
Where is it standing now?-1
December 16th, the U.S. Senate voted by
unanimous consent to adopt the Stem Cell
Therapeutic & Research Act of 2005
December 17th, the U.S. House of
Representatives adopted, by unanimous vote,
this amended version of the bill
December 20th, President Bush signed this
legislation into law
Where is it standing
This new legislation authorizes $79
million in new federal funding for the
collection and storage of cord blood units
from ethnically-diverse cord blood donors
and the establishment of a public cord
blood bank network
What can we do to make a
Write a legislative bill on making a law to require
parents to sign a paper on what they want to do
with the baby’s umbilical cord.
Fundraising for increasing public banks, and
lowering the price for family banking