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Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 7 Genetics of Development

From: Karen Blaustein <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Date: Sat Feb 24 2007 - 16:51:12 EST

Hi Mary,
I basically agree with you. It was interesting to learn about the
differences between a totipotent stem cell and a pluripotent stem cell.
I had never heard of a totipotent stem cell, but now realize that they
are the only ones that have the ability to develop into a fetus with the
associated placenta. Personally, I do not believe that we should produce
embryos for the sole purpose of research when other sources of stem
cells are available. These include embryos produced by infertile
couples that are no longer needed due to various factors. Many of these
embryos may be discarded and therefore I believe that these embryos
could be used for research. However there are still many controversial
implications concerning stem cells. Should we ban couples from using
fertility treatments because they will inevitably be producing some
embryos that may never be used? Is this the same thing as killing a
possible life? To me, it basically comes down to this... the stem cells
have not diferentiated into specialized cells. Accordingly, they do not
have nerve cells, brain cells, etc. which are cells assoicated with
thought, feelings, and pain. Similarly, organs have not yet developed.
Therefore, they are not really a living human being yet. Could we dream
up that ovarian egg cells and sperm cells are also a potential person?
 
I was watching the news the other night and they had a story about a
woman who is making and selling fertilized embryos to the general
public. The cost was about $3000 dollars, which is significantly less
that adoption (except that it was preferably to buy more than one
because implantation might not work the first time). She is making and
selling possible human life. What do you think about this?

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Fri 2/16/2007 10:50 AM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 7 Genetics of Development

________________________________

Dear Karen,
      I found this unit on the genetics of development to be quite
interesting and controversial. In terms of research it seems that
embryonic stem cells are the most useful. They can differentiate into
many more cell types. They are easy to grow in large numbers in the lab
and hold much promise in the treatment of many illnesses and medical
conditions including Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and leukemia.
However, in the harvesting of these cells, the embryo and thus a
potential person are detsroyed. Adult stem cells are much harder to
grow in large amounts and cannot differentiate into as many different
cell types. It is my opinion that research on existing cell lines
should continue as directed by the Bush administration, but the
destruction of embryos for the sole purpose of research should not be
allowed. We could be destroying a human being that actually does
discover the cure for cancer or HIV or any number of diseases. At the
same time, we must be reasonable and allow medicine to advance, so those
embryos that are already marked for destruction such as in unused
in-vitro fertilization procedures should at least have some useful
purpose.
     The key to this whole issue really is figuring out how to get adult
stem cells to become pluripotent. I have heard in the news that
researchers are making great strides in this research. Therefore, I
think that in the future the stem cell debate will not be an issue
because scientists will have figured out how to use adult stem cells
more prominently in their research. How do you feel?
Mary Johnston

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Received on Mon Feb 26 11:02:58 2007

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