7 TICs 1 Running Head: 7 TICS Stem Cell Research: Federal Funding and Embryonic Research 7 TICs Chelsea Arnold, Amanda Bueche, Karla Giboney, Sonja Herzog, Alexandr Kononenko, Suzanne Prideax, Julie Wellborn 7 TICs 2 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. Spacing 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 7 TICs 3 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 7 TICs 4 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 7 TICs 5 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, 7 TICs 6 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. 7 TICs 7 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 Tolorance.org, n.d.). Spacing?? 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 discarded. 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). 7 TICs 8 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? 7 TICs 9 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 disregarded. 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 7 TICs 10 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 dignity? 7 TICs 11 References American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Leading Sites of New Cancer Cases and Deaths-2006 Estimates. Retrieved November 24, 2006, from http://www.cancer.org/downloads/stt/CAFF06EsCsMcLd.pdf. American Heart Association. (n.d.) Lets Talk From the Heart. http://s2mw.com/speakerskit/welcome.html Chapman, C. (2001). Biotechnology: Students speak out. In Fetal Stem Cells in Modern- Day Science. Retrieved October 9, 2006, from http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/chapman.html Ertelt, Steven. (2006, October) MIT Prof: Embryonic Stem Cell Research Nowhere Close to Helping Patients. http://www.lifenews.com/printpage.php The International Society for Stem Cell Research. (2004). Stem Cell Science: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved October 9, 2006, from http://www.isscr.org/science/faq.htm Keeler, William H. (2000, March). Pro-Life Activities. http://www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/keeler0300.htm Lutherans for Life. (n.d.). New Federal guidelines will allow taxpayer funding of stem cell research. http://www.lutheransforlife.org/lifedate/ The National Institutes of Health. (2006). Stem Cell Information Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved October 9, 2006, from http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/faqs National Research Council & Institute of Medicine. (2002). Stem cells and the future of regenerative medicine. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Religious Tolorance.org. (n.d.) Human Stem Cell Research: all sides to the dispute. http://www.religioustolerance.org/res_stem.htm Robinson, B.A. (2006, April 16). Stem cell research all sides of the debate. Retrieved October 14, 2006, from http://www.religioustolerance.org/res_stem.htm. Stem Cell Therapies. (n.d.). http://www.stemcelltherapies.org/ Willke, J.C. (2001, June 27). I'm Pro-Life and Oppose Embryonic Stem Cell Research. http://www.abortionessay.com/files/willke.html 7 TICs 12 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 APA 6 5.86 or 5.9 Nice job for a formal Total paper that requires so much coordination. A.