by Experiment-Resources.com (2008)
All scientists must consider whether the positive effects from their research are likely to be significantly higher than the negative effects. WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
Stem Cells are crucial to develop organisms. They are nonspecialized cells which have the potential to create other types of specific cells, such as blood-, brain-, tissue- or muscle-cells.
Stem cells are in our body all our lives, but are far more potent in a fetus than in an adult body. Some types of stem cells may be able to create all other cells in the body. Others have the potential to repair or replace damaged tissue or cells. Embryonic Stem Cells are developed from a female egg after it is fertilized by sperm. The process takes 4-5 days. WHAT IS STEM CELL RESEARCH?
Stem cell research is used for investigation of basic cells which develop organisms. The cells are grown in laboratories where tests are carried out to investigate fundamental properties of the cells. The controversy surrounding stem cell research led to an intense debate about ethics. Up until the recent years, the research method mainly focused on Embryonic Stem Cells, which involves taking tissue from an aborted embryo to get proper material to study. This is typcially done just days after conception or between the 5th and 9th week. Since then, researchers have moved on to more ethical study methods, such as Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS). iPS are artificially derived from a non-pluripotent cell, such as adult somatic cells. This is probably an important advancement in stem cell research, since it allows researchers to obtain pluripotent stem cells, which are important in research, without the controversial use of embryos. There were two main issues concerning stem cell research with both pros and cons: 1.How the knowledge will be used
2.Concerns about the methods
The first issue is really not just about stem cell research, as it may be applied to most research about human health. Since 2007, the second point, concerns about the methods involved, has been less debated, because of scientific developments such as iPS. 1) STEM CELL RESEARCH - ARGUMENTS REGARDING THE USAGE OF THE KNOWLEDGE As you will most probably notice, the following arguments are not exclusively in use when talking about stem cell research. Pros
Stem cell research can potentially help treating a range of medical problems. It could lead humanity closer to better treat and possibly cure a number of diseases: •Parkinson’s Disease
•Heart Diseases, Stroke and Diabetes (Type 1)
•Spinal Cord Injuries
•Replace or Repair Damaged Organs
•Reduced Risk of Transplantation (You could possibly get a copy of your own heart in a heart-transplantation in the future •Stem cells may play a major role in cancer
Better treatment of these diseases could also give significant social benefits for individuals and economic gains for society Cons
•"We should not mess with human life."
•"Humans should not be trying to play God"
•Some argue that stem cell research in the far future can lead to knowledge on how to clone humans. It is hard to say whether this is true, but we have seen devastating consequences of other research-programs, even with good intentions, such as nuclear research. 2) STEM CELL RESEARCH - PROS AND CONS ABOUT THE METHODS INVOLVED The controversy regarding the method involved was much tenser when researchers used Embryonic Stem Cells as their main method for stem cell research. DISCLAIMER:
These points are based on the old debate about the methods of stem cells research, from before 2007. Since then, scientists have moved on to use more ethically methods for stem cell research, such as iPS. This section serves as an illustration of the difficult evaluations researchers may have to...