Stem cells are found in nearly every multi-cellular organism and are able to renew themselves through cell division. The unique characteristic of stem cells is that they are able to differentiate into any kind of living cell; embryonic stem cells are the most potent, as they can be 'grown' into specific and specialized cells through cloning.
This scientific process is useful in repairing damaged tissue and has incredible potential to treat diseases like leukemia, cancer, spinal cord injuries and more, but it is highly controversial as embryonic stem cell research currently requires the destruction of a human embryo or therapeutic cloning. Both are highly debated practices, especially with regards to religious and ethical considerations.
Embryos are typically acquired from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics, where "flawed" or "poor quality" embryos are discarded by the hundreds of thousands each year. The abnormalities that make the embryos unsuitable for implantation have no effect on the stem cells which can be used for research.
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