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Stem Cells
The answer to a cure for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is a big issue in this campaign season.

September 13rd, 2004

By Dartanian Milwood

The biggest health care issue in this political season is turning out to be Stem Cell research.

Stem cells are cells in the initial stages of development in the human body. All cells in the body come from these cells, and, yes, that is why they have the name "Stem Cells".

Think of your body as a giant waiting room with a bunch of cells sitting around waiting to see what their purpose is in life.

These cells can become skin, bones, blood, muscles or nerves. So, essentially, the stem cells are the building blocks to life.

The very first sign of human life, the embryo, is actually formed by a stem cell. The cells used to create the embryo are known as being Totipotent, which means that they have the ability to become any of the cells that make up your body.

Now, the development of an inner cell mass, which is the foundation of the fetus, is also created by stem cells. At this point, the cells still have the potential to develop into a baby, but they do not hold any distinguishing characteristics.

After developing cells for eight weeks, we have arrived at a semi constructed fetus. Stem cells here are responsible for development of everything from physical form to personality types to disease and disabilities.

It is actually quite amazing that your life is being constructed before you are even able to fathom opening your eyes.

The question now is at what stage can we experiment with stem cells without actually experimenting on a human being. If it is a fetus after 8 weeks or was part of a miscarriage or abortion, is it ethical to see if we can determine the origin of inherited diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s?

The Bush Administration has put tight restrictions on stem cell research, but here in California, a new proposition on this years ballot calls for 3 million dollars in funding for embryoninc stem cell research, which goes much deeper than the existing limitations that allow only for existing cell research (Stem Cells that have actually developed into something).

John Kerry, if elected, has said he will reinstate federal funding for early term stem cell research. It seems as if the country’s division on pro life and pro choice has spilled over into the world of science.

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