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Stem Cells

This first and perhaps only thing that comes to mind is the controversy that the topic of stem cells produces, which is somewhat discouraging because it shows that the controversy outlasts the results that stem cell science has produced. What makes this especially interesting is that no one has to even understand the science to get into a legitimate debate over stem cells, at least a generic one.

To put it quite simply, stem cells produce new cells. This is where science is able to form new organs or even clone entire living things with a little help. And like cloning, there is no doubt that society needs help to understand what stem cells do and what they really are, which we will review here.

The Controversy

The first reported controversy over stem cells came from the work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who is said to be the father of neuroscience. In the 1931, he determined that no new neurons could develop after birth. This prevented new ideas from the beginning of stem cell research in the 1960’s from being accepted by scientists.

Eventually, science would disprove Cajal but at the turn of the century, stem cell research began to raise a lot of moral questions as scientists test the waters to get the federal funding they needed. It was under the George Bush administration that the best known controversy was established, under the idea that stem cells could only be supplied by aborted fetuses; another already controversial issue, which would later be disproven as well.

The Facts

Even before the stories about stem cells were spun out of control, earlier research showed that adult stem cells was also an option and even during the first decade of the twenty first century, new stem cells were being discovered in yet more places.

There is also more than one type of stem cell. For instance there are Amniotic stem cells which come from amniotic fluid as well as cord blood stem cells to name a few. Science has also been able to manipulate adult cells with certain qualities to act as stem cells and referred to as induced pluripotent stem cells.

Dolly The Sheep

Dolly was the first animal to be cloned from a human cell. Her existence was not revealed for a year after they were born in 1997 which naturally got a lot of attention. This is when much of the moral implications of cloning and stem cells were carried into the twenty first century all over the world.

Dolly did not survive more than a little over six years old and it was suggested the complications from lung cancer and arthritis was a result of the cloning process, which is still debated.

Moving Forward

With decades of stem cell research behind us, we’ve found that even with the promises of a better life that stem cells create as many problems as they solve. Currently there are diseases and disorders that have resulted from them, which leave even more questions which simply cannot be abandoned but it is understandable how they can be controversial.

Even though this is the case, this research has already overcome many obstacles put in its way, from which it has recovered quickly. In the long term it will make us a better society.


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