Stem cell research is a complicated and controversial issue. Before you can be for it or against it, you must fully understand the terminology, the potential, and consequences of stem cell research. There are implicit details which shape the perception of stem cell research. It's been made a:
In mid-May 2005 President Bush said, "I am a strong supporter of stem cell research, but I've made it very clear to Congress that the use of federal taxpayer money to promote science that destroys life in order to save life, I am against this."
Deborah White, Guide to Liberals:U.S. for About.com analyzes the pros and cons of embryonic stem cell research.
What are stem cells (SC)?
SC differ from other kinds of cells in the body. Regardless of their source, they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods. Although they are unspecialized, they can give rise to specialized types of cells (i.e. muscle, red blood, brain).
What are embryonic stem cells (ESC)?
ESC are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro, in an in vitro fertilization clinic. They are donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman's body - a common misconception.
What are adult stem cells (ASC)?
ASC are undifferentiated, found among differentiated cell types in a tissue or organ. ASC can renew themselves, and can differentiate to yield the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ. Their primary role in a living organism is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found.
How are ESC and ASC similar and how are they different?
They differ in the number and type of differentiated cells they can become. ESC can become all types found in the body. ASC are said to be less versatile, generally limited to differentiating into different cell types of their tissue of origin. However, other evidence suggests that an ASC from one adult tissue may be able to generate the differentiated types of cells of another adult tissue.