How Stem Cell Research Can Help
Stem Cell Research Provides Hope
In this series of articles I will be looking at what stem cell research is, the political, ethical and social dimensions, as well as the treatment potential for Alzheimer's disease.
Supporters of stem cell research say it holds unrivalled promise of new medical treatments. Stem cell research opponents say the destruction of human embryos involved is ethically unacceptable. Described as 'the body self-repair kit' stem cells have the potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. The stem cells can, theoretically, divide without limit to replenish and repair cells such as brain cells, muscle cells, nerve cells and red blood cells.
Alzheimer's Association Statement
On June 13 2004 the following statement on stem cell research was issued by the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer's Association. Their Human Stem Cell Policy Statement reads:
"In keeping with its mission to eliminate Alzheimer's disease, the Alzheimer's Association opposes any restriction or limitation on human stem cell research, provided the appropriate scientific reviews, and ethical and oversight guidelines are in place."
Diseases Given Hope by Stem Cell Research
Celebrity Advocates for Stem Cell Research
Christopher Reeve, who tirelessly campaigned for stem cell research as a future treatment for spinal cord injuries, after a fall from his horse in 1995 left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease has endorsed stem cell research through making an adverts, fund raising and political activism.
Nancy Reagan's public endorsement of stem cell research has done much to publicize and fund raise to aid the campaign for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Her husband, Ronald Reagan, former president of the USA suffered from the disease for many years.
Political Support and Legislation
The issue of stem cell research and treatment, especially using embryonic stem cells, has caused controversy wherever it has been considered in the world. In America stem cell research has become a contentious issue. In 2004 more than 200 House members signed a letter asking President George Bush to reverse his limited embryonic stem cell funding on a limited number of stem cell lines. President Bush has recently used his Presidential veto rejecting Congress's bid to lift funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.
There is little doubt that continuing political debate among policymakers and the public will go on. Ethical and social considerations of any new treatment that involves the use of embryonic cells are emotive. The European Parliament has backed the public funding of research on stem cells extracted from human embryos. The proposal also allow medical research on human cells cloned using the same techniques which created Dolly the cloned sheep. Strict rules and regulations have had to be put into place to regulate this new area of scientific research.