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  1. STEM CELL RESEARCH What You Need To Know SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  2. Outline of This Presentation • Stem cell research • The nature and promise of stem cell research • The ethical debate • Funding and regulation • How can I become an advocate? SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  3. What Are Stem Cells? Stem cells are the raw material from which all of the body’s mature, differentiated cells are made. Stem cells give rise to brain cells, nerve cells, heart cells, pancreatic cells, etc. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  4. What’s So Special About Stem Cells? • They have the potential to replace cell tissue that has been damaged or destroyed by severe illnesses. • They can replicate themselves over and over for a very long time. • Understanding how stem cells develop into healthy and diseased cells will assist the search for cures. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  5. Two Kinds of Stem Cells • Embryonic (also called “pluripotent”) stem cells are capable of developing into all the cell types of the body. • Adult stem cells are less versatile and more difficult to identify, isolate, and purify. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  6. Embryonic Stem Cells: Researchers extract stem cells from a 5-7 days oldblastocyst. Stem cells can divide in culture to form more of their own kind, thereby creating a stem cell line. The research aims to induce these cells to generate healthy tissue needed by patients. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  7. Two Sources of Embryonic Stem Cells 1. Excess fertilized eggs from IVF (in-vitro fertilization) clinics 2. Therapeutic cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  8. Tens of thousands of frozen embryos are routinely destroyed when couples finish their treatment. • These surplus embryos can be used to produce stem cells. • Regenerative medical research aims to develop these cells into new, healthy tissue to heal severe illnesses. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  9. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer • The nucleus of a donated egg is removed and replaced with the nucleus of a mature, "somatic cell" (a skin cell, for example). • No sperm is involved in this process, and no embryo is created to be implanted in a woman’s womb. • The resulting stem cells can potentially develop into specialized cells that are useful for treating severe illnesses. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  10. The Ethical Debate In favor of ESCR: • Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) fulfills the ethical obligation to alleviate human suffering. • Since excess IVF embryos will be discarded anyway, isn’t it better that they be used in valuable research? • SCNT (Therapeutic Cloning) produces cells in a petri dish, not a pregnancy. Against ESCR: • In ESCR, stem cells are taken from a human blastocyst, which is then destroyed. This amounts to “murder.” • There is a risk of commercial exploitation of the human participants in ESCR. • Slippery slope argument: ESCR will lead to reproductive cloning. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  11. Key Ethical Issues • The blastocyst used in stem cell research is microscopically small and has no nervous system. Does it count as a “person” who has a right to life? • What do various religions say about when personhood begins? Does science have a view on this? • In a society where citizens hold diverse religious views, how can we democratically make humane public policy? SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  12. Funding and Regulation of Stem Cell Research • Federal • State • International At all three levels of government, the future of stem cell research is insecure. The research is strongly supported by scientists and very much needed by patients. On the other hand those who oppose the research are well-funded and determined to legislate it out of existence. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  13. Federal Legislation • Government funding is prohibited for research using cell lines developed after Aug 9, 2001. • Efforts to regulate the research are currently stalemated in Washington. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  14. State Legislation • In 2003 there were 71 bills in 29 states • Legislation supporting therapeutic cloning research has been passed in California and New Jersey. • If it passes in November 2004, the “California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative” will provide $3 billion over 10 years. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  15. International Legislation • Embryonic Stem cell research is highly controversial not only in the United States but worldwide. • In the past two years, many nations have begun to tolerate, if not to support, the research. • In the fall of 2004, the United Nations will consider enacting a global ban on both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  16. Stem Cell Research Worldwide SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  17. United Nations • In November 2003, a committee of the General Assembly defeated by only one vote a proposal to ban therapeutic cloning research. The United States delegation strongly supported this proposal. • In September 2004, the General Assembly will again consider the proposal to ban the research. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  18. What can Ido? BECOME INFORMED! Learn the facts about stem cell research and its curative potential. Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Stem Cell Action Network (Education Page) SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  19. Inform Others • Contact patient and community groups and offer to give a presentation like this one. Organize a house party to help spread the word. • Offer to help someone else give this presentation. • Collect email addresses of supporters to be added to SCAN’s mailing list. SCAN will send out news bulletins and action alerts about pending legislation. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  20. Inform Others (cont’d) • Arrange to meet with your political representatives to discuss their support for stem cell research. • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. • Find other like-minded people and work together. Invite friends, colleagues, and caretakers of patients to become involved. SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network

  21. BE SEEN!BE HEARD!BE IMPATIENT! SCAN – Stem Cell Action Network