Health Care Economics - Stem Cell Research

Essay by mistynenaUniversity, Master'sA-, January 2009

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Stem cell research has been the topic of many debates recently. The upcoming elections have once again brought stem cell research to the front of the line during debates. Some people believe that stem cell research is unethical while others feel that it will save millions of lives. The purpose of this paper is to show how politics and stem-cell research are intertwined with one another and that they do relate with politics.

Stem cells are located in an embryo's inner cell mass. Stem cells located in a three to five day old embryo, called a blastocyst, give rise to many specialized cells that make up the heart, lung, and skin. In adult tissues these cells can create replacements for cells lost because of injury or disease. These cells have the potential to develop into any tissue in the body. For example, research has shown that bone marrow stem cells can be transplanted into a damaged heart to regenerate healthy heart cells.

There is also evidence that stem cells may be instructed to produce insulin which would provide a lasting solution for diabetics (NIH, 2006). No other cell can perform the same functions as stem cells. Other cells in the body have specific functions and they do not replicate. Stem cells are different form other cells because they have a special signal that other cells do not. These signals are produced by the cell's genes, which are located on the cells DNA. The genes act as a messenger and carry specific instructions about the cells function. Scientists are studying how these genes differ on each stem cell and if the signal can be altered. By studying this, the scientists are learning how to control the cells signals. If scientists can learn how to control the stem cells, they may be...