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Against Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research by hcj


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Running Head: 7 TICS

           Stem Cell Research: Federal Funding and Embryonic Research

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Chelsea Arnold, Amanda Bueche, Karla Giboney, Sonja Herzog, Alexandr Kononenko,

                       Suzanne Prideax, Julie Wellborn
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                     Stem Cell Research: Federal Funding and Embryonic Research

       Did you know? All types of body cells originate from one type of precursor cell, called a

stem cell. Stem cells have the potentional to develop into any of the approximately 220 different

types of cells which form the human body. Due to their plasticity, stem cells have the potential to

provide therapies for a host of degenerative diseases. However, the area of stem cell research has

also sparked a heated debate on many fronts.

       Currently, the federal government funds stem cell research, but specific criteria must be

met before obtaining funds. Some believe that there should be no restraints placed on the use of

federal funding in this area of research because of its potential to treat diseases for which there

are presently no therapies, or the therapies available are not able to cure the condition. Others

insist there should be no federal support for stem cell research because of the prolonged timeline

until these treatments would be available, as well as ethical reasons.


For Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research

       Federal funding of stem cell research is a necessary part of the ongoing development of

medical therapies for degenerative disease. Current research indicates the possibilities of stem

cell therapies are simply endless. More aggressive and effective treatment for heart attack,

cancer, diabetes, and many other prevalent diseases are all realistic if research in this area

continues, particularly using embryonic stem cells.

       Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 910,000 each

year (American Heart Association, n.d.). The damaged heart can progress through various stages

including inflammation, heart cell injury and death, scar formation, and compensation by

adjacent tissue, leading to farther inflammation and injury, and perhaps gradual degeneration
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towards congestive heart failure. Until recently, non-invasive methods of restoring heart function

included hyperbaric oxygen and external counterpulsation. Currently, a variety of umbilical cord

stem cells and growth factors are being considered that would help repair damaged blood vessels

as well as restore heart muscle cell (cardiomyocyte) function in the injured areas of the heart.

(Stem Cell Therapies, n.d.)

       An estimated 1,399,790 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2006 (American Cancer

Society, n.d.). Umbilical cord blood has been used since 1988 for treating primarily malignant

diseases. The hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells from cord blood restore blood, bone marrow

and immune function after radiation or chemotherapy. In addition, stem cells themselves may

fight against cancers. (Stem Cell Therapies, n.d.)

       Recently, Dr. Steenblock designed a cord stem cell that is transfected with genes that

generate cancer fighting cytokines. The stem cells essentially become factories that churn out

anti-tumor factors. These cord stem cells have been successful in fighting prostate cancer in

laboratory animals. Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death in

American men. Clinics in Mexico are now using these cells for terminal cancer patients and

seeing positive results such as significant reductions in pain, increases in appetite, tumor

shrinkage and an improved quality of life. These cells also seem to work well against leukemia

and other types of cancers. (Stem Cell Therapies, n.d.)

       Diabetes affects over 17 million Americans (American Heart Association, n.d.), and that

number is only expected to increase as we face increasing obesity rates to epidemic proportions.

Cord mesenchymal stem cells can be beneficial in regenerating the pancreas and restoring

normal insulin release. In addition, hematopoietic stem cells found in cord blood are beneficial in

restoring normal immune function in autoimmune disorders. Mice models of type 1 diabetes
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administered human umbilical cord blood cells showed significantly lowered blood glucose

levels and increased longevity compared with the untreated control group. None of the mice died

who received the highest dosage of stem cells (200 million). Cord stem cells can also reduce

diabetic neuropathy by differentiating into neurons as well as by releasing growth factors that

can help protect neural tissue from oxidative stress. (Stem Cell Therapies, n.d.)

       It is more than evident that the possibility of what could be accomplished through stem

cell therapy is simply endless. It is the government responsibility to care for its citizens by

supporting the research in this vital and life transforming field.

Against Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research

       Providing federal funds for stem cell research is unnecessary, unethical, immoral, and

condones murder. Stem cells are the most primitive of human cells and can be coaxed into

developing into most of the 220 types of cells found in the human body; such as blood cells,

heart cells, brain cells, and neural tissues. Stem cells can be extracted from very young human

embryos- typically from surplus frozen embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization procedures at

fertility clinics. Stem cells can also be extracted from adult tissue, without harm to the subject.

Unfortunately, adult stem cells are difficult to remove and are severely limited in quantity and

usefulness. (Reference, date)

       The method of creating embryonic stem cell lines involves the insertion of the nucleus

from a fully differentiated somatic cell into a fresh oocyte from which the nucleus has been

removed. Donating eggs is time consuming, uncomfortable, and potentially risky, but without

donors, there will be less research on human embryonic stem cells. There is concern that some

potential donors are not fully informed about the potentional risks and fewer would actually
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volunteer if they understood the downside. Currently, oocytes are donated for reproductive

purposes, not for research (Ertelt, 2006). Increasing the availability of federal funds for stem cell

research would start a cascade of problems. Women could donate their eggs for purpose of

monetary reward at a high cost to their own health. The rate of abortions would increase as

women sell their fetuses for research.

       In November 2005, Woo Suk Hwang, the leader of a South Korean team conducting

stem-cell research, touched off an international uproar when he admitted that he had used

oocytes from junior students in his lab as well as paid donors. He then lied about where the

oocytes had been obtained (Keeler, 2000). This is just an example of the immoral acts that are

lending to stem cell research, and have already resulted in the betrayal of trust between scientists

and research subjects.

       Since 1996, Federal law has prohibited the use of tax dollars to destroy human embryos.

The Clinton administration adopted rules saying federally funded scientists could conduct

experiments on stem cell lines as long as they did not themselves participate in embryo

destruction. Cells were to be derived from embryos destroyed with private money in private labs,

then shipped to federally funded scientists for study. The government was just about to provide

its first stem cell grants when Clinton left office. President George W. Bush initially banned

stem cell research funding while is administration’s policy was developed. Currently, President

Bush has decided to allow limited use of federal funds toward future stem cell research

(Lutherans for Life, n.d.).

       Research from a MIT professor, James Sherley, showed that embryonic stem cell

research is nowhere close to helping patients, because “scientists haven’t yet figured out how to

stop embryonic stem cells from causing tumors when injected into patients.” (Reference, date,
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p.??) Tumors form because embryonic stem cells have the potential to turn into many kinds of

tissue- including the wrong ones. Sherley also said that the “tumor formation property is an

inherent feature of the cells,” (Reference, date. p.?) and states that many American scientists

agree with his view that embryonic stem cells cause problems and we are a long way away from

helping patients (Ertelt, 2006).

       Despite the current research showing the harmful effects currently produced by stem

cells, Senators Arlen Specter and Tom Harkin introduced the “Stem Cell Research Act” (S.2015)

to approve and expand the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) proposal for funding of human

embryonic stem cell research. The NIH proposal authorizes federal researchers to obtain their

own supply of stem cells, so long as federal funds are not used for the specific act of destroying

human embryos for their cells. S.2015 would authorize federal researchers to obtain their own

supply of living human embryos, so the NIH can then use these federal funds to kill those human

beings to obtain research material. If congress were to approve S.2015, it would officially

declare for the first time in our nation’s history that government may exploit and destroy human

life for research purposes. This would be in conflict with Congress’s modest effort to respect

unborn human life in federally funded programs over the past century. The fact that an unborn

child may be “no longer needed or wanted” by their parents, and therefore intended for abortion,

has never been seen by Congress as a reason for using federal funds to take part in killing of

these children (Keeler, 2000). There is no substantial evidence which would support a shift of

our moral and ethical reasoning up to this point.

       Stem cell research in the United States is inevitably connected with the politics of

abortion. The US government has refused to fund embryo research, including in vetro

fertilization (IVF), because Congress feared this would encourage women to have abortions.
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Currently, IVF and infertility research have taken place in an unregulated private sector. For the

past thirty years, the US has refused to fund embryo research based on our moral, ethical and

religious beliefs (Keeler, 2000). Federal funding of stem cell research would demean human

dignity by promoting the destruction of life (Religious, n.d.).


       Federal funding is currently only available to researchers using adult stem cells or stem

cells from the sixty embryonic stem cell lines that existed prior to August, 2001. This introduces

another, equally disputed topic: should embryonic stem cells be used in stem cell research?

For Fetal Stem Cell Research

       The use of fetal stem cells is a highly debated topic due to the fact that some people see it

as an abortion from an ethical stand point. “These fetal stem cells are actually obtained from

terminated pregnancies [which were already intended for abortion] or in vitro, they will not

develop into a fetus after harvesting, and they have been clinically proven to cure disease.”

(Chapman, 2001) The aborted fetuses used for stem cell research would have otherwise been


       Adult stem cells have also proven effective. Adult stem cells are currently the only type

of stem cell commonly used to treat human diseases. However, human embryonic stem cells are

thought to have much greater potential. They may be able to give rise to cells found in all tissues

of the embryo. Adult stem cells are thought to be restricted to certain subpopulations of cell

types. They are also only found in minute quantities and therefore can be difficult to isolate and

purify (The National Institutes of Health, 2006).
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       There are many diseases that could potentially be cured if scientists were allowed to

continue stem cell research- millions of lives could be saved. “The most promising use of stem

cells is due to their ability to be modified into different functional adult cell types and serve as a

potential source of replacement cells to treat numerous diseases. Thus, any disease in which

tissue degeneration is present has the potential to be a candidate for stem cell therapies” (“The

International Society for Stem Cell Research[ISSCR],” 2004). This means that diseases like

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and even heart disease could potentially have a cure.

        Human embryonic stem cells have not successfully been used to treat any human

diseases yet. They have just been tested. “Scientists have only been able to do experiments with

human embryonic stem cells since 1998 … federal funds have only been available since August

9th, 2001” (“The National Institutes of Health,” 2006). It will take time, but it is a very promising

treatment. The good that could potentially come from continuing fetal stem cell research

outweighs the ethical arguments against it.

Against Stem Cell Research

       Quote from Dr. J.C. Wilke (2001): “At the first cell stage, you were everything you are

today. You were already male or female. You were alive, not dead. You were certainly human as

you had 46 human chromosomes (you were not a carrot or rabbit); and most importantly, you

were complete. For nothing has been added to the single cell whom you once were, from then

until today, nothing except food and oxygen. You were all there then, and to terminate your life

at any stage can be called nothing other than killing” The question presenting itself: Is human life

any less precious because it’s in an early stage?
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       Embryonic stem cell research requires the use of blastocysts, which are derived from an

embryo whose cells have been dividing for 5-7 days- not simply a fertilized egg (Wilke, 2001).

In order to remove the blastocysts from the inner cell mass, the embryo is destroyed in the

process. No other scientific research kills its human participants for the possible benefit to others.

       Another major ethical dilemma is associated with the means of obtaining embryos for

stem cell research. A primary source of gathering embryos for research is from in vetro

fertilization labs. Instead of being discarded, surplus embryos are gathered by scientific labs for

use in embryonic stem cell research. One argument may be, “these embryos would have been

discarded and destined for death anyway.” While this is true, embryos are humans and alive, and

although these particular embryos may be destined for death, they shouldn’t be used for research.

        Human life deserves a degree of respect and dignity at all stages. For the same reason,

scientific experiments are not performed on criminals who are about to be legally executed. We

choose not to cut them apart and use their bodily tissues because we have respect for the human

body and human life, an absolute necessity in a civilized nation. The other source of embryonic

stem cells involves the lab creating custom made embryos. These embryos are created as a

means to an end; respect for human life and the concept of human dignity is completely


       Both methods for obtaining embryos are being used in the United States today. The only

slowing of embryonic stem cell research came about because of President Bush’s August 9, 2001

halt on the federal funding for research any new stem cell lines (National Research Council &

Institute of Medicine, 2002). Federal funding is currently only available on the sixty stem cell

lines existing prior to the announcement. However, there is no current federal ban on creating
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stem cells for the purpose of research. So, private, non-federally funded labs have total freedom

to create new stem cell lines or utilize embryos from any source.

       The appalling lack of respect of human life shown by embryonic stem cell research must

end. Respect for human life is critical, without it there is no end to the possible evils. Specific

rights and regulations must be formulated so that biological research may continue without

further forfeit of human life.

       The arguments for and against federal funding of stem cell research and use of embryonic

stem cells in stem cell research are compelling. On one side, new studies show the high

probability of effective treatment options for degenerative diseases. On the other, strong

arguments exist for the preservation of human decency and long standing ethical principles. The

choice our society and government must make is clear: are the advances to science and medicine

and the potential benefit to millions of people worth the sacrifice of respect for human life and

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American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Leading Sites of New Cancer Cases and Deaths-2006

       Estimates. Retrieved November 24, 2006, from

American Heart Association. (n.d.) Lets Talk From the Heart.

Chapman, C. (2001). Biotechnology: Students speak out. In Fetal Stem Cells in

       Modern- Day Science. Retrieved October 9, 2006, from

Ertelt, Steven. (2006, October) MIT Prof: Embryonic Stem Cell Research Nowhere Close to
       Helping Patients.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research. (2004). Stem Cell Science: Frequently Asked
       Questions. Retrieved October 9, 2006, from
Keeler, William H. (2000, March). Pro-Life Activities.
Lutherans for Life. (n.d.). New Federal guidelines will allow taxpayer funding of stem cell
The National Institutes of Health. (2006). Stem Cell Information Frequently Asked

       Questions. Retrieved October 9, 2006, from

National Research Council & Institute of Medicine. (2002). Stem cells and the future of
       regenerative medicine. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Religious (n.d.) Human Stem Cell Research: all sides to the dispute.
Robinson, B.A. (2006, April 16). Stem cell research all sides of the debate. Retrieved October
       14, 2006, from
Stem Cell Therapies. (n.d.).
Willke, J.C. (2001, June 27). I'm Pro-Life and Oppose Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
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                                Issues Paper Grading Criteria

              Criteria              Possible        Actual             Comments
Issue selection—appropriate                    .3   .3            Very appropriate topic

Issue clarification—purpose and            1.2      1.17          Nice job with
clarity                                                           introducing and
                                                                  sticking to purpose.
Issue development—                         1.2      1.2           Covered all sides of
depth/breadth and organized                                       the issue
Reasons and conclusions—                   1.8      1.8           Nice job with some
accuracy, precision, logic                                        difficult material,.
Implications—relevance                     1.2      1.11          Did not explain why
                                                                  important to nursing.
                                                                  Inferred relevance..

Style, readability, spelling,                       .28           Well-written. Rare
punctuation, grammar                           .3                 errors. Some work on

                                               6    5.86 or 5.9   Nice job for a formal
Total                                                             paper that requires so
                                                                  much coordination. A.

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