Who should have jurisdiction over stem cell research (e.g., Congress, individual states, scientists, an independent agency, or the public)?

1. Who should have jurisdiction over stem cell research (e.g., Congress, individual states, scientists, an independent agency, or the public)?

2. Kidneys secrete hormones, filter waste products from the blood, and help regulate the concentration of salts in the blood. Normally, people have two kidneys. However, some people lose the function of their kidneys. For people needing a kidney, doctors can transplant a new one if there is an appropriate kidney available. Unfortunately, there are not enough kidneys for everyone needing transplants. Kidneys are an example of an organ that researchers hope someday to be able to grow from stem cells. Discuss the reasons for and against growing kidneys from stem cells. (Reasons for include: increased availability; the recipient will not reject the new organ; no organ donor risk factors. Reasons against include: no guarantee of success from this research; objection to using embryonic stem cells; unforeseen problems with cloned kidneys; alternatives could exist, such as an expanded donor program.)

3. Certain diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), are hard to study because the affected cells are damaged or destroyed before a patient knows he or she has the disease. Cloning cells derived from patients who have one of these diseases enables scientists like Doug Melton to watch the disease unfold in the laboratory. Seeing how cells fail gives researchers a better chance of understanding how such diseases start and of finding a way to stop them from developing. Many scientists think this aspect of cloning is even more important and far-reaching than simply making cells for transplants. Discuss the reasons for and against using embryonic stem cells to grow cell lines associated with a disease in order to better understand its onset and progression. (Reasons for include: understand diseases that begin years before symptoms are evident; reduces need to experiment on people; enables researchers to test drugs that might help stop the onset of the disease on cell lines rather than on people. Reasons against include: objection to using embryonic stem cells; no guarantee of success from this research.)

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