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Thread: Biology issues project & Stem cells

  1. #1 Biology issues project & Stem cells 
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    Hello,

    I'm doing an issues paper on stem cells, where I need to discuss opposing arguments, but avoid talking about ethics. After hours of researching the subject, I'm having difficulties coming up with a scenario that does not involve some sort of ethical debate. Could anyone point me in the right direction?

    many thanks!


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Concentrate on the technical barriers.


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  4. #3  
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    And donīt mention embryonic stem cells
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  5. #4  
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    If you want a good argument against stem cell research, or at least embryonic stem cell research, is that getting your hands on them is basically more effort than its worth. Not just due to ethical and legal barriers, but embryos do not equal embryonic stem cells, you need an embryo that is at most a few days old.

    Problem with this, no one knows they're pregnant for the first week or two so getting them from abortion clinics is a waist of time, and even if you deliberately inpregnated a woman to get them IVF pregnancies take a few tries to work and again even if you're testing the day after implantation the tests come back after its too late. Also spair eggs from IVF labs don't yet grow properly in culture. Consequently most of the embryonic stem cells we can get out hands on are second grade at best.

    A second argument would be the economics one. Stem cells have no promise of rewards, we know relatively little about them and no one can garuintee investing all this time and money in them will bring a pay out down the line or whether we couldn't have achieved that same result through a different, cheaper, kind of research. As optimistic as researchers are its still a big gamble that may not pay off in the end. Remembering ofcourse money is limited and we could be investing this money in something that has a garuinteed bay out at the end.

    Another one, how is this research going to benefit society as a whole? Allot of the theoretical applications of the end product sound extremely expensive and out of reach of the average person. What point is a cure that no one can afford? When designing treatments you should allways consider 3 main things - how effective will this treatment be? how dangerous are the side effects? and how economical is it? Again, remember resources are limited and as a society we can only afford to spend so much on an individual before it starts becoming selfish (as you're scrificing resources that would otherwise go to someone else who needs them to).


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    Basically there are 3 general points you can make against stem cell research - the ethical argument, the technical difficulty argument and the economical argument. If you can't do the ethical one then you need to focus on the technical difficulties (arguing its more difficult that its worth/impossible) and a waist of societies resources. I will caution you that these two arguments can sound quite similar, so avoid repetition and make sure you make them two very distinct, clean points.
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  6. #5  
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    thanks for the tips - huge help. Its really tough to wade through the media hype of the subject.

    thanks again!
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  7. #6  
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    Does the topic have to be solely embryonic stem cells? You could talk about adult stem cells vs embryonics in terms of therapeutic potential and such. And the technical element of course. Adult stem cells are generally better characterised, partly because of the ethical issues which discourage research funding for embryonics and partly because embryonics are awkward to obtain in numbers comparable to adult ones.
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  8. #7 Re: Biology issues project & Stem cells 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by visevo
    Hello,

    I'm doing an issues paper on stem cells, where I need to discuss opposing arguments, but avoid talking about ethics.

    There aren't really opposing arguments in the technical story, only in the ethical story.

    Any conflict regarding stem cells can be distilled to ethical issues.

    Just write an essay on how stupid the assignment is.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  9. #8  
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    Embryonic stem cells will be obsoleted by umbilical cord blood anyway. Every baby delivered comes with a convenient package containing stem cells which *can't* be rejected by that individual in later life. We've already begun storing these in private and non-profit banks. I predict this will become standard practice in about a decade, and in Canada at least: covered by public health care. Everybody will have their own stem cells on ice.

    My son missed the service introduction to British Columbia by two weeks, damn it. The old boy may rue his luck some day.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  10. #9  
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    I question whether umbilical stem cells will superceed embryonic stem cells. Umblilican stem cells are still not totipotent like embryonic, they're good but not perfect.
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