Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stem Cells: What Does it Mean for Us?

By now you've likely heard the news - Obama has lifted the ban on stem cell research, which will open the way for many new lines of embryonic stem cells. It's controversial to many, but what does it REALLY mean in terms of research and innovation for the creation of heart tissue?

First, let's clarify what, exactly, embryonic stem cells are. Human embryonic stem cells are our body's most versatile cells, possessing the potential to develop into any cell type in our bodies (with the exception of a placenta). Already such cells have been used to form heart tissues and valves. Embryonic stem cells are created during in vitro fertilization for persons with reproductive issues. Blastocysts are formed, from which the cells are harvested. The permission of the donors are given to donate these cells for research. Only 21 lines of these cells have been researched since 2001, due to a ban Bush placed on further research beyond the existing lines.

In a press release dated March 9, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) applauds President Barack Obama’s executive order, citing its potential to relieve suffering caused by diseases and conditions (including those caused by heart defects). The new policy allows scientists to utilize the many hundreds of valuable lines created since 2001, and relieves them from the substantial hurdles in duplicating equipment and other resources in order to separate privately- or state-funded stem cell research from federal government-funded efforts.

It's a hot topic most of us don't want to discuss in public. But it's a discussion we need to have. What do you think? Does the announcement restore the "integrity to the relationship between politics and science that has been traditional in the U.S.,” as asserted by Irving Weissman, President-Elect of the ISSCR? Would you be a willing recipient of the tissues and valves created in this manner?


Danine said...

Like alot of things that I've had to endure in my short 35 years, I've come to realize that sometimes you have to take the lesser of the evil. Now I'm not saying stem cell research is evil by no way. I truly believe in it. If it can find cures for diseases and/or slow down some of these horrible diseases why not?

Possiblities of ending CHD...WOW! I also volunteer for MDA and seeing those children who are affected with some of the neuromuscular diseases that will NEVER see their 18th birthday. If stem cell research can do something for them...more power to that!

Sam and Brian said...

Thank you so much for the kind words on my blog! I have bookmarked your blog and will check back often. You sound like an incredibly strong and amazing person!!

Bill and Mary said...

I guess I have a differen POV than Danine...even if stem cell research (meaning embryonic stem cell research) directly impacted my son, I would still be against it. I have no problems with cord blood stem cell research, but I am extremely pro-life and, to me, that embryo is another life. I am just providing a different view of the subject. There have been great advances in other forms of stem cell research, not just embryonic, but we still keep coming back to the embryos. My son was an embryo at 6wks 4 days when we saw and heard his heart beating for the first time. It's just a hard pill for me to swallow. As much as I want an end to CHD, not only for my son and my future children and grandchildren, but for ALL CHILDREN, I just cannot justify taking another life to do it. Just my opinion...you asked for it! :)

Karen said...

My son is part of a published stem cell research team and I am excited about the future of this research. But I believe the future is in adult stem cell research, not embryonic. One day, when a child needs a heart valve, a scientist will use the child's own stem cells to grow a valve. This child will not need anti-rejection drugs because the tissue is his own. The valve will grow as he grows, so he will not need additional surgeries. And the child will not be at risk of a tumor taking over his heart from embryonic cells gone wild. The media has done a grave injustice to adult stem cell research.

Liberty Mariano said...

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