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What You Need to Know about Stem Cell Research

Aug 17, 2007
Stem cell research is one of the most important breakthroughs that happened in November 1998. It was when two separate researchers successfully took stem cells from aborted fetuses and human embryos. Stem cell research deals with studying the embryonic stem cells. Stem cells or embryo cells are those specialized cells of the body that has the ability to replicate on their own or divide for indefinite periods when put under the right conditions. When given the appropriate signals, they can give rise or differentiate to the several various types of cell that make up an organism. They are capable of becoming all or several of the 210 different kinds of tissues in the human body. Simply put, experts can reproduce certain kinds of cells that can work to treat a malfunctioning or dying organism.

1. Goals Of Stem Cell Research

- To obtain essential scientific information regarding embryonic development and its use to related fields
- To cure diseases that cause debilitation, e.g., Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's, stroke, bone diseases, etc.
- Drugs screening for pharmaceutical establishments as opposed to relying on animal models

The advent of technology made the medical field bring to the world several great innovations...

PROS:

- Treatment of innumerable kinds of diseases
- Pain medications
- Cloning
- Exotic therapies
- Miracle drugs

CONS:

- Biological warfare
- Ethics
- Moral dilemma

2. The Issues

The beneficial aspects of stem cell research are said to be taken for granted because of its unethical procedures. The use of stem cells that came from adult humans did not fetch any questioning. Of course, the use of stem cells that are taken from aborted fetuses and early human embryos is what is frowned upon.

That major point of disagreement was countered by justifying stem cell research through utilitarian ethical arguments. Pro-stem cell research people said that it is actually ethically acceptable, even morally required to cause the destruction of a few human beings to possibly benefit millions of other humans. Also, these stem cells are said to be unlike the adult cells in the sense that they don't cause any problem with their compatibility with the immune systems of patients after transplanted. Moreover, these embryonic stem cells are reported to be very to coax to become more varied types of tissues, and can be stored longer while awaiting use. Besides, pro-stem cell research people said that these test-tube-produced embryos and fetuses are about to die anyway, why not make use of them?

The opponents of human embryonic stem cell research reacted by pointing out that the considerable ethical problem is the source of those stem cells. That living human embryos as the most vulnerable human beings are set to be destroyed while taking those stem cells out of their bodies for research. That it is never acceptable in the field of ethics to kill any innocent human being intentionally - even if it promises benefit to the majority. It is said to be tantamount to reducing these fetuses and embryos to mere objects for others' use, instead of subjects with inherent rights that must be given equal protection. Moreover, if it's the nearness of death that becomes a part of the basis for deciding for permitting the killing of human beings, it's also like saying that terminally-ill patients, military service personnel facing combats, and death-row inmates could be killed for their organs and stem cells too to benefit the majority.

Due to this debate, the use of human embryos and fetuses in stem cell research, whether dead or living, has been made illegal while the use of adult cells is legal.
About the Author
For more great stem cell related articles and resources check out http://www.cordbloodhq.com
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