On March 9, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order removing the limitations on federal funding of research involving embryonic stem cells that had been in place since August 2001.
Scientists believe that stem cells have the potential to cure many diseases, including type 1 diabetes. Stem cells are a type of basic cell that scientists hope can grow to be any other type of cell, such as a muscle, nerve, or beta cell. For people with type 1 diabetes, the hope is that stem cells can be made into insulin-producing beta cells in vast quantities and that these engineered beta cells can be transplanted into people with type 1 diabetes, curing them of the disease.
The controversy surrounding stem cell research is related to the source of the stem cells, not the potential benefits of the research. Stem cells can come from many sources, including adults (your bone marrow has blood stem cells, for example), umbilical cord blood, and embryos. Many scientists believe that embryonic stem cells offer the greatest promise, but it is the use of embryonic stem cells that is controversial because extracting stem cells from the embryo destroys the embryo.
Those in favor of the use of embryonic stem cells in research point out that the embryos used to provide these stem cells are obtained from extra embryos produced by in vitro fertizilation and would be discarded anyway. They argue that these embryos should not be destroyed, as they are now, but rather used to provide stem cells to researchers to benefit millions of people suffering from many diseases.
Those opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells in research believe that sacraficing a potential human life to benefit another person is wrong. They argue that permitting the intentional destruction of innocent human life -- the embryo -- cannot be justified under any circumstances. Opponents are not against stem cell research -- they are against the use of embryonic stem cells. Those against the use of embryonic stem cells are often also against abortion, but not all abortion opponents are against the use of embryonic stem cells for research. Senator Orin Hatch, for example, opposes abortion but favors embryonic stem cell research.
Stem Cell Research Information
- The Stem Cell Information home at the NIH contains a wealth of information about stem cell research
- What are stem cells? from the DRI
- Stem Cell Research & Applications by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
- The Stem Cell Research Foundation offers information about the many types of stem cells and their potential for curing diseases
- Interview with Elizabeth Cohen, CNN medical correspondent, on the ethics of stem cell research
President Barack Obama's Executive Order on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
- President Barack Obama signs Executive Order Removing Barriers To Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells.
- DRI Hails Decision To Lift Federal Stem Cell Restrictions.
- Statement from the American Diabetes Association on President Obama's Executive Order Regarding Stem Cell Research.
- Obama's Executive Order Lifts Ban on Stem Cell Research Funding.
President Bush's Decision on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
- President Bush approves limited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research
- NIH Statement on the President's Stem Cell Address
- University of Miami Scientists React to President Bush's Stem Cell Decision
- Scientists applaud decision from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, reported by the Diabetes Research Institute
- Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) Statement on President Bush's Decision On Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research
- Report from The New York Times on the President's decision (fee required to read full text)
- A Science in Its Infancy, but With Great Expectations for Its Adolescence, also from The New York Times (fee required to read full text)
- Report from The Washington Post
- Stem Cells - A Nobel Response from the Rochester Area Right To Life Committee
- Declaration on the Production and the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells from the Pontificia Academia pro Vita
Science About Stem Cell Research
- Insulin Production by Human Embryonic Stem Cells (Diabetes 50(8):1691-1697, 2001). Full text available as HTML or PDF format.
- Artifactual Insulin Release From Differentiated Embryonic Stem Cells.
- Derivation, growth and applications of human embryonic stem cells. Full text available as HTML or PDF format.
- Stem cells: a promising source of pancreatic islets for transplantation in type 1 diabetes.
For More Information
- Diabetes and Stem Cell Research: A Report From The World Stem Cell Summit.
- Congresswoman Slams Religious Right's Assault on Science's "Edgier" Side.
- Animation Explaining Stem Cells can help everyone, including kids, understand what stem cells are.
- DRI Opens a Pancreatic Stem Cell Development Lab
- Facts About Stem Cell Research from The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, a group opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells but in favor of other stem cell research
- Stem Cell Action advocates for stem cell research.
- Explore Stem Cells is a UK site with overviews of stem cells
- Portraits of Hope includes links to stories from people who hope to benefit from stem cell research.
- The Limits Of Stem Cells is from an NBC News program aired on Tuesday, July 27th. You can view the segment online as a Windows Media file (57 MBytes).
- The mission of the Alliance for Stem Cell Research (ASCR) is to advance the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine, and to educate the public about its potential and progress
Companies Involved in Stem Cells
- Store-A-Tooth banks stem cells found on baby teeth.
Last Updated: Wednesday May 09, 2012 18:02:43
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