Stem cell survey

The announcement of a new survey on stem cells arrived today and some of you may have already read about it. When I read the results of a survey, I always want to know what the real questions were—not just the results. So, I went to the website for the Johns Hopkins Values in Conflict: Public Attitudes on Embryonic Stem Cell Research website and checked out the questions. I thought some of you might like to answer them for yourself. The survey is long, so I’ll post just a few at a time. What I particularly like about this survey, though it takes you longer to complete it, is the definitions and other information before some of the questions.

Q12. Before today, had you heard about embryonic stem cells? Yes     No

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL DEFINITION  Stem cells are cells that are able to give rise both to more stem cells and to specialized cell types (e.g. muscle cells, blood cells, liver cells). The next few questions will be about one type of stem cells called embryonic stem cells. For the purposes of today’s questions, here is a definition of embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are obtained from early embryos and can give rise to all cell types in the human body. When stem cells are obtained from embryos, the embryo is destroyed. Most scientists believe that human embryonic stem cell research holds great promise for understanding human disease and developing new treatments for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinsons disease. Stem cells can be obtained from embryos that were created through IVF for couples trying to have a baby. Sometimes there are embryos remaining after IVF. Couples can donate these embryos to stem cell research in which the embryo will be destroyed. Stem cells also can be obtained from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. These stem cells are useful in treating some diseases such as some cancers and blood diseases. However, most scientists believe that developing new treatments for many diseases from these stem cells will take longer and is less certain than using embryonic stem cells.

Q13. Over the last three months, have you read, seen, or heard a lot, a little, or nothing about issues involving embryonic stem cells?   A lot    A little    Nothing

Q14. In general, do you strongly approve, approve, disapprove or strongly disapprove of embryonic stem cell research? Strongly approve   Approve   Disapprove   Strongly disapprove

More questions tomorrow

Marie Godfrey, PhD

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