College Of Arts and Sciences | Embryonal Stem Cells & Human Cloning
S105 | 4013 | Malacinski, G.


Many of the cells of the early embryo can be harvested and coaxed--
under appropriate laboratory conditions--to develop into one or
another type of tissue.  For example,  cells which exhibit properties
of muscle, nerve, liver, etc. have been observed in test-tube
cultures of both mouse and human embryonal stem cells.

Naturally, the question arises as to whether cells cultured from an
early embryo could be used as a source of replacement parts for
diseased or aged human tissues or organs.  The simple-minded idea is
to collect embryo cells, culture them in the test tube so as to cause
them to specialize into the desired type of tissue, and then implant
them into patients!

Bridging the gap between the possible and the probable  from a
technical/economic standpoint will be reviewed.  Predictions re. the
chances of success will be offered.

Dealing with the moral and ethical issues which surround embryonal
stem cell research will also be discussed in detail.  Does embryonic
stem cell research have the potential to impact on traditional
notions of the meaning of life, and respect for human dignity?
Should such research be encouraged? If we were to "fast forward" ten
years form now, what will the dominant attitude be?

In this course we will first learn the scientific background of
topics such as embryonal stem cells,  human cloning, and gene
typing.  Then we will review the social and cultural frameworks which
contribute to the public policies which are presently under
development.