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snivelingchild
Mar 21st, 2005, 09:55 AM
There's no poll about this yet, so I figure it's about time.
What do you think?

veganblue
Mar 21st, 2005, 10:51 AM
There's no poll about this yet, so I figure it's about time.
What do you think?

Considering we are using our own species for a change - it kind of takes the wind out of the sails of vivisectionists, when suggesting using human cells instead of fully formed animals that are poor analogues for human conditions.

Quite suddenly they develop some sort of moral objection..!

Considering how many naturally aborted foetus' get flushed down the toilet in the natural course of things, I have difficulty understanding the sanctity of life perspective given by Christian groups and right-to-life-rs.

There is the question of is it ethical to create a fully (potentially) functional embryo in a testtube with the intention that it will be discarded? But then I ask at what point does that cluster of cells become a child?

I am sure that research is continuing in this field simply because it is simple to do (relatively) and the lab that has been doing it quietly, will be at the forefront of research when prohibitions are lifted.

Will they be lifted? Maybe not in my life time but science changes so swiftly now; it is hard to guess.

snivelingchild
Mar 21st, 2005, 10:59 AM
There is the question of is it ethical to create a fully (potentially) functional embryo in a testtube with the intention that it will be discarded? But then I ask at what point does that cluster of cells become a child?

This is exactly what I was thinking of earlier. I didn't know much about the subject, so I did some simple research into what it was and how the stem cells are obtained, to better understand why people oppose it, and that is what spawned this thread. I never considered the fact that life is being created in order to be destroyed.

I also began wondering what changes when a sperm and egg (both of which I consider to be life and not a life) combine. What is so special that it should be treated differently? I can understand once it is inside a mother and begins to grow, but before that, is it really life?

I had trouble with the creating life to destroy it part, because it seems too similar to two people having unprotected sex because they can always have an abortion. Of course, then I see the differences. In the end I decided that it cannot suffer, so what harm can be done?

snivelingchild
Mar 21st, 2005, 11:02 AM
I am hoping that someone who believes that creating life to destroy it is wrong will describe their feelings. Though I understand somewhat where that position is coming from, I would love to read details so that I could understand it more!

laura1983
Mar 21st, 2005, 11:05 AM
But then I ask at what point does that cluster of cells become a child?


This is such a dfficult question to answer! But i think for most people their understanding and justification is centred around the key point put forward by veganblue above - "when do you believe life begins?"

I have studied a lot of embryology when i did my first Biomedical Sciences degree in London and to be perfectly honest the time at which life begins is still hotly contested in all scientific circles. But, personally from what i have been lectured upon i believe that it begins at fertilisation.

This therefore makes stem cell research a difficult idea to stomach as it begins after the first few inital cell divisions before the cells are instructed to become unique "cell lines" within the embryo, therefore meaning that these stem cells in fact have the ability to become any tissue depending upon the upstream instructions they recieve.

At my uni in London they had just been awarded the ability to begin stell cell research into finding possible cures for Type 1 diabetes, they would instruct the stell cells to form Beta cells (these are the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas) and then look at the possiblity of transplanting them into the Type 1 diabetes sufferer. Obviously this is a long way off as there is still a lot to learn about stem cells. We know that we can switch them on to begin dividing into a specifc cell line/tissue but we are yet to fully understand if the dividing can be accurately stopped (if not they could in fact become tumours, even neoplasms (malignant tumours).

But, in all honesty it does not not sit well with me!

snivelingchild
Mar 21st, 2005, 11:41 AM
What would one consider the ethical difference between the life of a newly formed embryo and the life of, say, a plant? One, of course, has the potential to become conscious life, but what about its abilities in its present state?

There are lots of questions on this subject, the kind that create more questions if and when answered.

laura1983
Mar 21st, 2005, 12:33 PM
Forgot to mention that i also find human stem cell research hard to deal with because it goes hand in hand with animal research. Stem cell research using rodent, rabbit, pig etc stem cells (adult and embryonic) has been going on for years and this is the basis for the move towards using human stem cells and it will continue to be used in adjunct with human stem cell research. Therefore, i cannot see how one can agree with the stem cell research as long as it is not on animals because to have got to the stage where animal researchers know enough to allow them to play with human stem cells they have done millions of experiments on animal stem cells and animal embryos removed from slaughtered female host uterues and will carry on using them to reinforce procedures, finds, new investigations and techniques. Seeing 5 mice embryos of less than a day old in a test tube being manipulated is not something that i ever want to see again in my entire life.

Hope that makes sense and gives a different point of view!!!!!!

Stu
Mar 21st, 2005, 12:51 PM
What would one consider the ethical difference between the life of a newly formed embryo and the life of, say, a plant? One, of course, has the potential to become conscious life, but what about its abilities in its present state?

There are lots of questions on this subject, the kind that create more questions if and when answered.
The problem here, is that we can only find the answers to questions like this through carrying out such research. So we have a situation whereby people rely on research taking place (and past research), in order to formulate an opinion on their attitude towards such research. A sort of Catch-22 situation.

Personally, I am generally sickened by the attitude of most humans to all such research. As a race, we are so arrogant; this really angers me. So much destruction is carried out, supposedly in the name of 'the greater good'. Well I'm sorry, but this is utter bollocks as far as I'm concerned.

To my eyes, science is all about destruction. The (limited) advances that science tends to bring about are not justified to me, because of the destruction involved in arriving at the findings.

I hesitate to use the word 'sacred' (it has kinda religious connotations), but I think life should be treated with respect. We seem to think we know so much about it; but we simply don't. This is the arrogance that really gets to me.

laura1983
Mar 21st, 2005, 01:00 PM
The problem here, is that we can only find the answers to questions like this through carrying out such research. So we have a situation whereby people rely on research taking place (and past research), in order to formulate an opinion on their attitude towards such research. A sort of Catch-22 situation.

Personally, I am generally sickened by the attitude of most humans to all such research. As a race, we are so arrogant; this really angers me. So much destruction is carried out, supposedly in the name of 'the greater good'. Well I'm sorry, but this is utter bollocks as far as I'm concerned.

To my eyes, science is all about destruction. The (limited) advances that science tends to bring about are not justified to me, because of the destruction involved in arriving at the findings.

I hesitate to use the word 'sacred' (it has kinda religious connotations), but I think life should be treated with respect. We seem to think we know so much about it; but we simply don't. This is the arrogance that really gets to me.

Stu, what an eloquently written post im with you 100%!

veganblue
Mar 21st, 2005, 02:01 PM
Forgot to mention that i also find human stem cell research hard to deal with because it goes hand in hand with animal research. I had forgotten this aspect. It does make it difficult - so much of our current medical research is built on animal research and animal extracts. Anything we do in the future will be based upon tha animal experiementation but then so would and non-animal alternatives that we will develop in time.

I think that I consider the use of human germ cells more ethical than researching using animal extracts or living models.

There was the suggestion that an embryo could have it's higher cerebral functions disabled in early development so that it did not develop past being a 'vegetable'. Sounds perfectly awful to me though.

What would one consider the ethical difference between the life of a newly formed embryo and the life of, say, a plant? Since a plant will never develop a nervous system and never will be able to, I think that I would rate the embryo as having greater ethical consideration....but a four hundred year old tree? - it's complex and there are no easy answers...

Shisha Fiend
Mar 22nd, 2005, 12:51 AM
I don't know much/enough about this issue. I put 'only with adult/ umbilical cord cells' but I don't know whether these constraints would narrow the amount of research that could be done?

I also definitely believe animals should not be sacrificed during this; for me this is taken as a given. I don't believe it's any worse to experiment on animals than it is humans though. I really have serious reservations about using 'discarded embryos' for a number of reasons which have nothing to do with when life itself begins.
The main issue is money. How many women, on having an abortion or miscarriage, would give consent for the embryo to be experimented on? I think that if these things have value attached it could result in certain abortion practitioners 'stealing' them for sale to laboratories. Also is it possible that women in third world countries might start conceiving and then having abortions, for money?

Sorry if I've missed the point and these embryos are grown from the stem cells straight off- I know this can be done. But there are some research fields anyway where embryos from aborted pregnancies are experimented on, and if that was central to stem cell research, then those kinds of scenarios could appear. You already have people selling kidneys and cataracts after all.

xxx

Stu
Mar 22nd, 2005, 01:00 AM
How many women, on having an abortion or miscarriage, would give consent for the embryo to be experimented on? I think that if these things have value attached it could result in...
Well obviously they don't have value as far as those women are concerned...

Shisha Fiend
Mar 22nd, 2005, 01:24 AM
Well obviously they don't have value as far as those women are concerned...

That's not exactly fair. An abortion is not always an easy decision, and even if it was, that doesn't mean the same applies to women who have miscarriages.

foxytina_69
Mar 22nd, 2005, 02:12 AM
uhm yeah i disagree. ofcourse an embryo has value to a woman, it doesnt mean that a woman doesnt value it if she's getting an abortion. :rolleyes:

snivelingchild
Mar 22nd, 2005, 02:24 AM
From what I've read, these discarded embryos are mostly from women who had an atirficial insemination, where they make several embryos, but don't always use them all. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't read too much on the subject.

feline01
Mar 22nd, 2005, 03:08 AM
We actually have our kids stem cells banked meaning that when they were born, their umbilical cords were sent to a lab and are stored in case we ever need them. We pay a yearly fee for this. The advantage is that if we ever needed stem cells, say one of our kids developed leukemia, we'd have access to their own stem cells. It's also anticipated that not far in the future, certain diseases might be treatable using stem cells.

1vegan
Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:44 AM
I have my doubts on this subject.

As been said, it will involve animal testing at some point and I don't like it.

For the same reason I don't donate blood, part of my blood might be sold to a company that will use it for commercial reasons, maybe something combined with animal testing.

The other issue that I have with "research" is that it almost always on "commerical inspiration".

With my limited knowledge it looks like "can we make a buck out of it" instead of "can we help people with it".
And I don't like the "end of pipe" attitude in western medical stuff.

Exagerating : Eat fast food all day, and if your body starts to give up on you, then we'll find you something to "cure" that, with whatever.

tails4wagging
Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:53 AM
I agree with feline. most stem cells are taken, harmlessy from umbilical cords.
Also stem cells are taken from base cells before they become embryos.

I cant see any fault in that as long as it does not involve animals.

veganblue
Mar 22nd, 2005, 08:14 AM
The other issue that I have with "research" is that it almost always on "commerical inspiration". With my limited knowledge it looks like "can we make a buck out of it" instead of "can we help people with it".
And I don't like the "end of pipe" attitude in western medical stuff.


There are reasons that science is taking a strong turn towards commercialism, since governments and corporations demand economic outcomes from publically and privately funded research, preferrably within the short term.

This is why the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for the Great Barrier Reef was threatened with closure, since the terms of the funding arrangement require a $$$ return that will actually bring the government money. However the study of a Natural World Heritage site does not have short term benefits, especially as the results will probably put prohibitions on fishing, and sugar cane growing (that leads to algal blooms from nutrient run off) not to mention the pressure on the reef due to tourism, one of the areas greatest industries.

Unless the population takes the reigns and demands that research be better funded, it will increasingly be government and private commercial interests that set the scientific agenda.

laura1983
Mar 22nd, 2005, 10:43 AM
I agree with feline. most stem cells are taken, harmlessy from umbilical cords.
Also stem cells are taken from base cells before they become embryos.

I cant see any fault in that as long as it does not involve animals.

The issue is that i find it difficult knowing when to classify what you are about to experiment on? Are the cells in fact "base cells" otherwise known as Totipotent cells, these cells have total potential. They then specialise into pluripotent cells that can give rise to most, but not all, of the tissues necessary for fetal development. Or are they the beginning of the embryo?

Every embryo will begin in the same way beginning with fertilisation and then sucessively dividing into the 2-cell stage, 8-cell morola stage and progressively dividing further into the blastocyst and so on.

Is it ok to experiment on these inital cells just because we give them a different name such as "base cells" and avoid using the word "embryo"!!

Spiral
Mar 29th, 2005, 05:24 PM
US scientists say they found a good source of stem cells - hair follicles.
The fact that hair grows quickly and is continually replenished makes it an attractive source to harvest the amount of stem cells needed for treatments.
This has been a major stumbling block of stem cell research, as well as controversy surrounding the ethics of harvesting cells from embryos.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science study shows nerve cells can be grown from hair follicle stem cells.

Hair is a good source of stem cells (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4378941.stm)

John
Mar 29th, 2005, 07:24 PM
From what I've read, these discarded embryos are mostly from women who had an atirficial insemination, where they make several embryos, but don't always use them all. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't read too much on the subject.

If I'm not mistaken, you are correct. The type of stem cells which are being ethically debated (embryonic) are from blastocysts. A blastocyst is basically a fertilized egg right after fertilization and it consists of a few dozen cells.

Perhaps if you are against stem cell research, you should also be against
in vitro fertilization. Women are given fertility drugs which cause them to release many eggs. The eggs are fertilized and the unneeded embryos are kept frozen. I assume that these "human beings" are thrown away eventually if they are not used.

PolluxStar
Apr 26th, 2005, 06:32 AM
Stem cell research in particular...


I'm for it , I'm also sorry 2 say I'm for animal research for good causes , not commerical productz...


what about u folkz? :confused:

tails4wagging
Apr 26th, 2005, 06:59 AM
I think you will find if you look up the search they is a thread about somewhere before?

spo
Apr 26th, 2005, 09:25 AM
Stem cell research in particular...
I'm for it , I'm also sorry 2 say I'm for animal research for good causes , not commerical productz...
what about u folkz? :confused:

Dear PolluxStar:
Stem cell research is something I can endorse. But, animal research -- NO
WAY!!
I know a good deal about this since I am a nurse from an academic background, and I am married to a doctor (Internist/Endocrinologist). My husband was and still is involved in medical research, and he has had published studies in several medical journals.
Currently, there is absolutely no reason for animal models to be used. There are cell-culture techniques, and human trials that can easily replace most animal trials. They are less expensive techniques, and yield more applicable results for human medicine.
Check out the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website for more info on this-- www.pcrm.org. Both my husband and myself have successfully avoided involvement with animal research and yet, we both have trained at well-respected medical institutions, such as Columbia University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
spo