Monday, July 17, 2006

I know I am probably biased being a research assistant in a molecular biology lab, but I think embryonic stem cells should be used for research. I think the possible benefits of stem cell research are worth making a few people mad.

There are several types of stem cells. Some can develop into almost any type of cell and some can only become a few types of cells. I won't go into the boring details of how and why. Since not all stem cells are competent to become any type of cell, human embryonic stem cells are incredibly important for research purposes. They offer a much wider range of possibilities for the treatment of diseases.

In 2001 Bush allowed for federally funded research on stem cell lines produced before 2001. There are only 78 stem cell lines that meet this criteria and even fewer (less than 20) are actually usefull for reasearch purposes and clinical trials. He also compared using embryos for research to abortion.

Bush has already vowed to veto a bill in favor of federally funding embryonic stem cell research using leftover embryos from fertility clinics. It's likely the bill has enough votes to pass the senate, but not enough to overturn Bush's veto.

Embryos have the potential to become a person. They are a bundle of cells with all the components needed to become all the cells in the human body. If some of these cells are sitting in a freezer waiting to be destroyed, why shouldn't they be used for potentially life saving research? One embryo could be the beginning of a stem cell line that may save thousands or millions of people when put in the hands of the right researcher with the right amount of funding. So much potential is in such a small package.

I was just reading about some recent polls in which 70% of the public agrees with stem cell research. Generally, depending on the circumstances leading to an abortion, fewer that 70% of the public agrees with abortion. Is destroying leftover embryos in fertility clinics abortion, too? Should the clinics keep the embryos indefinitely? I think we may need a few more freezers.

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