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Ethical Issues of Stem Cell Technology Free essay! Download now

Home > A Level > Philosophy > Ethical Issues of Stem Cell Technology

Ethical Issues of Stem Cell Technology

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 650 | Submitted: 24-Jan-2010
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Ethical Issues of Stem Cell Technology


Stem cells are naturally found in the embryo of an unborn child. They are characterized by their ability to differentiate into a number of different specialized cells. The very early embryonic cells are totipotent i.e. they have the potential to develop into any type of cell. By the blastocyst stage (when the cells develop into a fused mass), they have undergone some more division and are now pluripotent, which means they have the potential to divide into many but not all cell types. Embryonic stem cells are also found in the blood that can be extracted from the umbilical cord when a baby is born and they also contain cells that are pluripotent.

Adult stem cells, on the other hand, exist in growing and adult bodies. These are multipotent, meaning that they are capable of developing into a restricted range of cells, usually the particular tissue or organ in which they are found.

Embryonic stem cell research involves culturing human embryonic stem cells with the objective of developing them into specialized cells, tissues and organs that could then to transferred to the patient. The cells used for research either come from aborted foetuses or donated spare embryos from IVF treatment. Therapeutic stem cell cloning artificially creates embryos for stem cell development. Stem cells are harvested from the embryo, which is destroyed in the process.

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