April 17th, 2018
Getting deeper today with our communication to the public about the controversial STEM CELL treatment for Parkinson's disease.
There are many different types of stem-cells which can be implanted in patients to regenerate or replace the damaged or abnormal cells caused by not only diseases like Parkinson's but also Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries. A specific example in relation to Parkinson's is the harvesting of embryonic stem cells. These human embryonic stem cells can be transplanted into the brain to replace and create dopamine neurons. The controversy is in how one can obtain these stem cells. During fertilization, in humans, the embryo is hollow and contains cells that eventually develop into a fetus. Researchers have discovered, as recently as 1998, that the cells in the embryo contain all the tissues types, therefore becoming any cell in the body. Thus the stem cells can be transplanted into patients with diseases dealing with cell abnormality.
Many religious groups argue that stem cell research should be discontinued by the federal government, because the killing of the embryos is just as heinous as abortion. Stem-cells are extracted from a few different sources, either from surplus embryos created for infertile couples, umbilical cords, and from elective abortions. For pro-lifers the embryos used to extract the stem cells are equal to human lives being destroyed. The other side of the argument is that embryonic cells are not living- they do not have a soul. Much of this debate is rooted and overlaps with the debate over whether abortion, of any form should be lawful. Scientists have also argued that many of the embryos used would have been destroyed at some point anyway, so why not use them for furthering the good of the human race. Consequently, political debate over whether federal funds should be used to support the further research of stem cell transplantation continues to this day. An example of the relevance and immediacy of this issue is the speech President Bush gave in the summer of 2001, in which he approved funding from the government on research of 64 human embryonic cells.