Final Paper: Moral Theory and Ethics in Human Stem Cell Research
Stem cells give the field of medicine amazing possibilities in research and development. These special cells have the capability to possibly correct and prevent Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries (Reaves, 2001). Stem cell research is based on two areas; the adult stem cell and the human embryonic stem cell. The ethical and legal issues arise on the area of human embryonic stem cell. This topic has called gathered much attention in politics, medical, and public interest. Bringing to light ethical considerations and understanding multiple learning outcomes are paramount to comprehending elements of this topic. Adult stems cells are a special type of undifferentiated cell (a cell that is not specialized) that is found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ system that can regenerate into some of the specialized cell type of that tissue or organ system. In short, adult stem cells are meant to sustain and restore the tissue or organ system they are designated. They are thought to exist in most of the body’s tissues such as the blood, brain, liver, intestine or skin. If the differentiations of adult stem cells are able to be manifested in the setting of the laboratory, adult stem cells may become the basis of transplantation-based therapies. The other type of stem cell research is over the human embryonic stem cell. The embryonic stem cells exist at the most early stages of embryonic growth and then form all of the types of cells of the human body. Typically in the human development these embryonic cells are not found after roughly five days. The capability to form so many types of different cells, the embryonic stem cell is also known as pluriptotent stem cell. These cells have an almost wonder like potential but scientists today are unable to specifically control their development into different types of cells in the body. The issues arise on the subject of embryonic stem cell research. The controversy resides over the creation of, usage, and destruction of the human embryos for stem cell research. The opposition to embryonic stem cell research brings claims to the issue such as; * The use or destruction of human embryos for stem cell research is a deep violation in the right to human life and no regard toward autonomy of the unborn life. * There are other alternatives such as adult stem cell research. * All of the potential that embryonic stem cell research is capable of is just that, potential. There is no actual proof that the potential can be realized. Human trials have begun but have yet to yield significant proof of effectiveness and need more trials (Walsh, 2012). These claims make a strong point for the opposition. On the reverse the supporters of embryonic stem cell research make the claims of; * They have the possibility of better treatment and could cure a number of diseases and defects * They could be made to produce new organs without the need for transplant * The outcome of the success they would make would outweigh the ethical issues * The embryo is no more of a “life” than a flake of skin. As seen, both sides have clear and strong points for their position.
James Thomson in 1998 at the University of Wisconsin was able to successfully remove cells from left-over embryos at different fertility clinics and grew more cells from them in a laboratory (UK Stem Cell Foundation, 2011). This was the most significant first step in embryonic stem cell research in its history. After Thomson’s success, this opened the door to many researches claiming that embryonic stem cells are capable to generate cells in many types of tissues or organs. Since the discovery in 1998, thousands of studies and published research has covered scientific journals each year. A large question raised in the issue of stem cell research is that of autonomy. The principle of autonomy involves recognizing the right...
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Pozgar, George D (2012). Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Professionals, 3rd Edition. Jones & Bartlett Publishers
Walsh, F. (2012, Jan 24). First trial results of human embryonic stem cells. Retrieved from
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