Stem cell research is a relatively new science that potentially holds the medical treatments for many of the most debilitating and concerning diseases and disorders afflicting us today. Like all new sciences, there is great potential to do harm as well as provide benefits to future generation’s health and wellbeing. It is therefore, not surprising that the Pros and Cons of Stem Cell Research is still a very heated and debated issue amongst scientific researchers, moral activist groups, religious groups, and governments.
Stem cell are very basic building blocks (cells) that hold the unique capabilit of being able to divide into any cell type found in the human body. Unlike normal cells that can only proliferate their own cell type, such as skin tissue, hair tissue, etc, stem cells have the unique capablity of providing the basic stem for any other cell type. One of the greatest hopes of stem cell research is that scientist will one day be able to minipulate stem cells to divide and proliferate into specific cell types, such as nerve cells for patient who have had a spinal injury.
Pros of Stem Cell Research
The pros of stem cell research include the following areas of benefit to humanity:
1. Develop an entirely new science that can be used in medicine to treat current and future diseases.
2. Stem cell research hopes to improve degenerative diseases such as: Parkinson’s Disease, Alzeimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis.
3. Stem cell research may provide the treatment for many cancers, by allowing doctors to remove the cancer affected organs and then using the patient’s own stem cells to literally, regrow their own organs, such as liver, lung, pancreas, etc.
4. Treat spinal cord injuries. If stem cell research allows scientists to develop a means of manipulating stem cells to form any type of cell, theoretically, stem cells can be used to regrow a patient’s own damaged spinal cord. This will allow people who have suffered a spinal cord injury to walk again.
5. Stem cell research will ultimately allow people to not only live longer, but, hopefully live much healthier lives, in which normal problems related to age will not cause a person to lose their quality of life. For example, people with arthritis, may be able to have this cured, and consequently they will be able to walk well into their 90s without assistance.
6. Stem cell resaerch can treat heart conditions, by regrowing a patient myocardial muscles (heart muscles) and allowing full repair of their heart and return to normal after a heart attack.
7. Total organ replacement will be possible. If a person loses an organ in an accident, or through disease, such as liver disease or kidney failure, they rarely are able to find an organ donor for everyone. However, through stem cell research, scientists will be able to regrow a person’s own organ in the event of organ tissue damage or disease. This will also lead to healthier and better options for people who do need organ transplants, because the organs will be derived from their own DNA. This will mean that any organ transplant will not cause their immune system to naturally combat the new organ and consequently, the debilitating immune suppresant medications normally required in organ transplants are not required.
8. Through stem cell research, live animal research (often inhumane) is required less and less.
Cons of Stem Cell Research
The following are cons of stem cell resarch:
1. Where can we ethically harvest stem cells in abundance? Although stem cells are found in adults and through umbilical cord blood and dental pulp in babies, these stem cells are relatively less ambundant than embryonic stem cells and are much older, which means their potential to proliferate is much less than “younger” embryonic stem cells. Harvesting embryonic stem cells opens up a multitude of ethical and moral delimas, including: who owns the rights to the stem cells, should people be selling stem cells, what if people start to intentionally get pregnant, only to abort their pregnancy so that they can sell their valuable stem cells?
2. Should we be playing GOD?
3. Where do we call enough enough? Are we supposed to live forever? Through stem cell therapies are we going to live to 100, 150 years or even older? If this happens, where do we live, how do we feed the massive population?
4. What if we start cloning humans in the future? What are the ethical implications of the human clone? What rights do human clones have?
5. Will we start creating only “beautiful” humans? Will everyone look tall, blonde, blue eyes, with perfect skin and an athletic frame?
Ultimately, stem cell research holds the potential keys to many disorders and may provide many technological improvement. Hopefully, so long as the stem cell researchers consider the ethical and moral ramifications of their actions, stem cell research should have some brilliant long term bennefits for society.