Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (hESR)

As we have indicated, embryonic stem cells, on their face value, are truly a beautiful and amazing part of human development since they are the foundational cells for every cell in the human body. And because of the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells and the corresponding supposed hope for medicinal use, researchs have sought to isolate these hESC. However, because theses stem cells are a necessary part of the embryos development, isolating the hESC necesitates the destruction of the embryo, which turns what was beautiful into a disgrace.

hESCR 1

In human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR), the beauty of the human blastocyst is destroyed for the sake of using these hESC to treat other diseases. The stem cells of the human blastocyst are removed, leaving the blastocyst dead and unable to continue its maturation process. The image at the right indicates this process.

These cells are then placed in a pietri dish and are encouraged to multiply undifferentiated until a “stem cell line” is created. Then, these lines are either immediately frozen for later experimentation, or they are experimented on to see how they differentiate into specific cells, at what rate the differentiation is done, and how the differentiation can be controlled.

While many scientists see hESCR as the holy grail of medicine, it is alarming to note that neither any treatments or cures have materalized through the use of hESCR. In fact, they omit that their is no timeframe as to when treatments or cures will materialize.

Many proponents of hESCR cite the lack of funding by President Bush as the reason no successes have come forth.

However, there are significant problems with hESCR:

  1. Uncontrollable: Because in the embryo these cells differentiate into all different types of cells at amazing speed, it is very difficult to control the type and rate of differentiation. Research has shown that harnessing the hESC is very difficult. This means that when hESC are removed from the embryo, the source that directs and provides a blueprint for differentiation, hESC are unstable and unreliable. Unstable and unreliable cell differentiation can lead to a teratoma, defined as an uncontrollable tumor, where cells differentiate with no central plan leaving a mass of bone, muscle, heart, teeth, and other tissue together.
  2. Immune System Rejection: Often, hESC used on a patient do originate with a patient, thereby contributing to their rejection by the immune system of the patient.
  3. No Clinical Trials to Date: Even among all the hype, hESCR has not produced ONE cure or treatment or even a clinical trial within the USA.  However, that is not the same for ethical stem cell research.

Because of these two problems, researchers need to research more to diagnose these problems. To research more, scientists need more human embryonic stem cells, which, of course, means more destrution of embryos to obtain the stem cells.

Lets break down how scientists isolate hESC

Two Main Methods for Isolating Embryonic Stem Cells

  1. In Vitro Fertilization: in In Vitro Fertilization, many eggs are taken from the mother’sIVF body and placed in a pietri dish with sperm of the father. Many eggs are fertilized in this controlled process to increase the chances of successful development. However, only one fertilized egg is placed within the womb of the mother to be carried to term. The rest of the fertilized eggs, being in property of the father and mother, are either frozen for later use or are donated to scientists for experiment. These scientists, then, let the zygote develop into a blastocyst. At the blasotcyst stage, they strip the stem cells from the human, leaving the blastocyst dead.

    • Problems Associated with In Vitro: 
      • Immune System Rejection: Again, the hESC gathered from the In Vitro embryo are not going to be used to heal that embryo, meaning wherever these hESC are used, there will be the concern that the immune sysem of the patient will reject the stem cells.
      • Property Rights: The use of embryos from In Vitro are dependent on the donation of these embryos by the parents to scientists. This limits the number of embryos scientists can acquire.
        >>> It is prohibited by Louisiana Law to experiment on human embryos developed through In Vitro Fertilization. Read the laws.
  2. Cloning (aka Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer SCNT): In cloning, an ovum or "egg" is taken from the ovary of a women. The nucleus (DNA) of the "egg" is removed leaving a denucleated ovum. Then, the nucleus of a normal cell (a cell with the full DNA code ofSCNT 46 chromosomes, such as a ski cell) is removed and inserted into the denucleated "egg". This leaves an "egg" with 46 chromosomes. This "egg" with a full DNA is shocked and the 46 chromosomes begin to divide, exactly as a egg in a mother’s fallopian tube would upon fertilization by the sperm.

    This newly created zygote’s cells divide and develops on the same path as the egg fertilized by the sperm, meaning in 7-14 days it is called a blastocyst. At this point, this “cloned” embryo can either be implanted in a surrogate mother’s womb and carried to term, or it can be stripped of its embryonic stem cells and left to die. (mcc video- 5:49-7:31)

    Problems Associated with hESC from Cloning: 
    • Immune System Rejection: The hESC gathered from the Cloning are not typically going to be used to heal that host, meaning wherever these hESC are used, there will be the concern that the immune sysem of the patient will reject the stem cells.
    • Getting "Eggs": For scientists to research hESCR through Cloning, they will need an immense number of eggs that must come from healthy women at a fertile age. Problems:
      • Unhealthy Acquiring: For scientists to acquire the eggs, a high dosage of drugs must be given to the women so she will release from her ovaries numerous eggs. This process has been documented as dangerous and unhealthy for the women's body.
      • Money for "Eggs": To get women to do this, research firms advertise on college campuses and similar places and offer thousands of dollars to cash-strapped and unsuspecting women. The women signing up for this are uniformed. The group Hands Off Our Ovaries, a coalition of both pro-life and pro-choice women, opposes hESCR through cloning because it requires taking advantage of women in tough circumstances for their eggs.

All this put together results in a rejection of embryonic stem cell research.

  1. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research necessarily involves the destruction of innocent human life for research purposes.
  2. hESCR has not proven to be effective at all.
  3. Methods of obtaining stem cells are suspect and have great potential for harming and taking advantage of women.

Does Louisiana Law Ban Embryonic Stem Cell Research?

  • Louisiana law bans experimentation on human embryos developed through In Vitro Fertilization, AND
  • Louisiana law prohibits public (federal and state) funding of human cloning in LA, thus drying up the resources for embryonic stem cell research to be done on cloned embryos.
    With these two laws, Embryonic Stem Cell Research is effectively banned in LA!

Through Adult Stem Cell Research, an ethical and successful method exists that simply replaces the need for hESCR. In our discussion of Adult Stem Cell Research, let us show you why we believe all people can be united towards cures through ethical means.

<<< Previous: What are Embryonic and Adult Cells? Next: Adult Stem Cell Research >>>

Related Links

>>> For a quick look at why ESCR and cloning should be banned, see our "Three Reasons".

>>> Embryonic SCR and Cloning is effectively banned in LA.  Learn about the laws.

>>> For a great 12 m. video on the science of stem cell research, visit the MCC.