Michael J. Fox is known for his struggle with Parkinson’s disease. A world-renounced TV Doctor known as Doctor Oz, helped to reassure that the future is embryonic stem cells, and how they could possibly bring the cure to specifically this disease within the next 10 years, or within our lifetime indefinitely.
Parkinson’s Disease is the degeneration of nerves and neurons in the brain and the lack of dopa-mine, which contributes to movement and thinking. When someone has Parkinson’s Disease, they tend to show figiting and erratic movements, and can lack in forms of thinking. They can also lose senses such as smell and touch, along with depression, constipation, and can suffer from sleep disorders.
What embryonic stem cells could do for this disease can be quoted by the EuroStemCell as, “Although the underlying cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, scientists do know which cells and areas of the brain are involved. Researchers are already using stem cells to grow dopa-mine-producing nerve cells in the lab so that they can study the disease, especially in those cases where there is a known genetic cause for the condition. Because a single, well-defined type of cell is affected, it may also be possible to treat Parkinson’s by replacing the lost nerve cells with healthy new ones.”
Any research done in a laboratory is expensive, demanding, and ultimately can lead into a failure or a success. The National Institute of Health conducts all research that is taken by scientists in labs studying embryonic stem cells and their potential. Whether it be extracting the embryos of funding the microscopes and lab materials, millions upon millions of tax payers dollars go toward this research – $546 million to be exact. But with his extraordinary cost, there are many pieces that go into it.
Since the early 200’s until present day, the National Institute of Health has put forth $546 million dollars into this research, and $137 million of it alone was during the year of 2010. It was recently discovered that there are over 400,000 In-Vitro fertilized embryos dating as far back as the 1970’s that have just been frozen over time.
But with these costs, there are many outlooks and potential for success in embryonic stem cells. With the $546 million dollars that are spent, companies such as HESC have plans to save over $250 billion dollars due to 5 diseases that embryonic stem cells hold the most potential to cure/treat. Heart failure, Parkinson’s, strokes, insulin-dependent diseases along with spinal cord injuries hold the most promise for stem cells. All of these disease rack up 18 million of the general population that are affected by it. Treatments that appear to help for a significant amount of time have costed U.S. Citizens $250 billion, and with embryonic stem cell research funding, this cost could be cut in half or even more.
The market for regenerative medicine is between $2-$5 billion, and each year is estimated to make a profit of over $10 billion. Stem cell research is a national resource, presenting a new frontier for intellectual capital and global commercialization, with significant promise to provide jobs, raise the GDP, and increase tax revenues.
With an aging population and viruses and bacteria that are becoming immune to new medications, there needs to be a new way to diagnose diseases that have a treatment/cure; those who haven’t before. Each year, millions of people are diagnosed with diseases that have no cure and no treatment. 18 million people that are affected by the 5 diseases that embryonic stem cells could heal, would help to reduce the total population affected by these diseases.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research is considered to be a controversial topic for many reasons; varying from cloning, dehumanizations, and murder. This all varies on the opinion of the people, but it also comes down to legality. Many scientists and researchers studying Embryonic Stem Cell Research constantly debate humanity and the ethical issues surrounding them. Since the discover of Embryonic Stem Cells (not just stem cells, but those found in a human embryo), in the 1960’s, the debate has raged on and off, with a timeline that has made the research legal and illegal over a dozen times until executive orders or a lack of technology. (To see the time line of embryonic stem cells, click on this link: http://www.stemcellhistory.com/stem-cell-research-timeline/ ).
As of March 9th, 2009, President Barack Obama lifted the restrictions that were placed on Embryonic Stem Cell Research by former President Bush during his first year of presidency. Since 2009, US NEWS defined that there were three different reasons behind the change in opinion and the lifted restrictions of the this research.
1. General support
Since President Bush’s restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and the changing of times, the support from both democrats and republicans along with independent parties have increased significantly since 2001. This does not include the change in people who vote entirely against the destroying of a human embryo, or those who do not generally have an opinion.
2. Support from those who would generally oppose
The Republican Party contributes a significant percentage to he continuation of Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Since 2001 and President Bush’s expulsion of Embryonic Stem Cell Research, the Republican Party is generally known for leaning more to the right on the political spectrum. But as times are changing and more diseases and illnesses have viruses and bacteria that are becoming immune, there are new treatments that need to be discovered in order to prevent and/or cure these diseases. Evangelicals, (farther right on the political spectrum) include those of religious beliefs and morals contribute the most voters in opposing embryonic stem cell research.
3. Christianity opposition
One of the bigger fallouts that this research is facing is Christianity religion that has a firm stance against this research because it pertains to dehumanization and is similar to an abortion which this religion is against entirely. Since 2001 & a Pew Poll that was taken during 2007, the percentage of those against embryonic stem cell research that were in this category decreased from 57% to 51%, which changed voters minds by 6% on he continuation of this research.
To see this site: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/god-and-country/2009/03/09/the-politics-behind-obamas-embryonic-stem-cell-research-decision
(This site contains the necessary information along with a short video)
Attached are some images that help to describe the process of extracting embryonic stem cells, specifically those from mice. There are many different ways that a scientist can extract embryonic stem cells from an embryo, and new technologies show that there is a way to extract these cells without destroying the embryo – which was considered to be the easiest way to extract these cells.
The process of destroying an embryo is called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). In this procedure, the nucleus of the non-somatic cell is transferred into a somatic cell whose nucleus is already extracted. This cell then has it’s own DNA, and tricks the cell into thinking that it has already been fertilized, and the cell starts to divide just as it would if it was a traditional somatic cell. With every way of extraction, there are advantages and disadvantages, and in this case, SCNT does not produce an embryo in the end, only a larger collection of a different nucleus-infused somatic cell.
Another process that researchers have used to extract embryonic stem cells is a blastomere extraction, and this does not destroy the human embryo. This research is conducted on a 2-day old embryo (younger than the traditional blastocyst where the most embryonic stem cells are found), and the cell triggers to divide, although results in less cells in the end.
Neither of these procedures are perfected, and the logistics of them are still being conducted. To see the link in which these stem cell research studies are, click here: http://www.explorestemcells.co.uk/newharvestingtechniques.html
The National Institute of Health has conducted all research and concluded all statistics about Embryonic Stem Cells since the first research that was conducted of embryonic mouse cells during the early 1980’s. During the Bush Administration, Embryonic Stem Cell Research was haunted, and this was based on the moral and ethical indifferences between people, countries, and religions. Bush’s Executive Order #13435 which haunted the study of he already current 100 embryonic stem cells lines that were harvested from mouse cells, and this order was specifically published during 2001. Eight years later, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order #13505 which revoked President Bush’s Executive Order, and removed barriers that are responsible for scientific research involving human stem cells. Although, this new executive order induced a new way in which the National Institute of Health conducts research, and within 120 days of the Executive Order being published, new guidelines and regulations were changed. If you wish to see the new guidelines and regulations that were place, here is the link: http://stemcells.nih.gov/policy/pages/2009guidelines.aspx
In 2014, here was a World Stem Cell Summit conducted and many professors and researchers specifically involved with the National Institute of Health attended.
Here is a link to a short clip surrounding the World Stem Cell Summit and brief interviews with those who attended: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BVRV5EL0ehM
Above is NOVA; and organization website that helps to describe the politics and economical advantages and disadvantages of Embryonic Stem Cell lines. This website article helps to describe these attributes with Clinton’s legacy, an amendment, and the restrictions that President George W. Bush, and where we stand on Embryonic Stem Cells today.