Stem Cell Research Paper

Stem Cell Research Paper

Stem cells research and particularly stem cell research is an area that has continually stirred up moral, spiritual and cultural dilemmas. Several arguments have been advanced both for and against stem cell research even as advances that are being made in the field of stem cell research continually evolve making it closer to becoming a widely practiced scientific application. Stem cells are widely studied because of their inherent ability to be renewed and regenerated in addition to their ability to adapt to different environments. Some of the benefits of stem cell research are: stem cells can be used in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s disorder which is a neurodegenerative disease that can be fatal. Bone marrow and blood stem cells have been used to treat cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. The applications are not just limited to treatment. Stem cells are also used in the studies done to gain an understanding of diseases and also study the interaction of drugs with various tissues and body organs. There opposing views on stem cell research with some advocating for it while others remain opposed to it. Stem Cell Research Paper. Those who advocate for stem cell research mainly enlist the many benefits that stem cell research has to the medical field. They argue that several lives would be saved all around the world in the moral ban on stem cell research was lifted. On the other hand, those oppose to it are particularly concerned over the source of the stem cells in particular the embryonic stem cells. There are debates that have been advanced that suggest that the harvesting of embryos from women serves a means of enhancing their discrimination and social oppression. The status of the embryo also comes into question with some arguing that the embryo has a moral status thus it is entitled to dignity and the right to life. This paper presents the two sides of the debate albeit supporting stem cell research due to its potential to resolve many medical problems. Stem Cell Research Paper
1.0 Introduction
Stem cell research has the potential of solving several problems in the medical field. It is however one of the controversial aspects of research hence has sparked a wide spread debate among ethicists, religious groups, scientific community and philosophers. In spite of the many arguments advanced against stem cell research, the immense benefits and potential of stem cell research make it a necessary evil that I support.
Almost all multicellular organisms possess stem cells. Stem cells are unique in that they possess the ability to regenerate themselves. This enables them to adapt to different types of environments quite easily and serve varied purposes. The regeneration of stem cells occurs by mitosis which is a process by which a eukaryotic cell undergoes division to give rise to two daughter cells whose genetic constitution is similar to that of the parent cell. They are two types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells .
Embryonic stem cells are found in blastocysts which is the blastomeric stage of the embryo. They can also be derived from cell culture whereby an isolated cell culture is grown on a medium coated with mouse embryonic cells that have been treated on the inner surface. After subsequent divisions, embryonic cells can be obtained from the cells culture. Another potential source of embryonic stem cells is somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) that is also known as cloning. In SCNT the nucleus of an egg is removed and in its place nucleus from a mature body cell, such as a skin cell is placed. The resultant cell obtained via SCNT undergoes development for several days after which the stem cells are harvested. Adult stem cells are cells that are undifferentiated found among cells that are differentiated. Adult stem cells can be obtained from various body parts including blood, eye, muscle, bone marrow, brain, skin, liver and hair. Stem Cell Research Paper. They have the ability to renew themselves hence can yield various types of specialized cells found in major tissues or organs. They have a vital role in the maintenance and repairing of tissues provided they have the optimal conditions required for their function. Identification of adult stem cells is done by different methods. It can be done by use of molecular markers. The cells can be harvested from the organism of choice then transplanted back into another organism of the same species to determine if the cells will repopulate the tissue from which they were derived.
2.0 Arguments for stem cell research
The use of stem cell research holds the potential of unlocking the mystery behind diseases that have long been elusive among medical practitioners. By using stem cell research, cells from a particular region can be produced in masses hence can undergo rigorous studies. The same can be applied in the understanding of interactions with organs or tissues. These benefits are argued to be worth the risks and the cost that is incurred in doing stem cell research. The study of stem cells provides an opportunity to gain insight into the differentiation processes that the tissue cells undergo. This is important in understanding the causes of birth defects and genetic abnormalities. Further research using stem research could eventually lead to the development of a cure for some of the conditions arising from birth defects or genetic abnormalities . Gene therapy is a highly beneficial application of stem cell research. The use of stem cells carry the potential of finding cure for genetic disorders such as Huntington’s disease or Down’s syndrome that have for years been untreatable. Stem Cell Research Paper
The ability of stem cell to regenerate and differentiate can be used in clinical drug trials. Stem cells can be used for mass production of one type of cell which can be used in studying the effect of a particular drug on that cell thus enhancing the knowledge available on the interaction of the drug at the cellular level. The toxicity of the drug and the required dosage can therefore be understood better through such studies hence appropriate alterations to the drug can be made.
Transplantation of stem cells can be a means of treatment of disease. The damaging effects of a disease such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease may be remedied by the use of stem cells. Recent studies indicate that in the future it might be possible to artificially direct the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells within a cell culture in order to give insulin-producing cells that eventually could be transplanted into diabetes patients .
Severe injury to a vital organ such as the spinal cord or the heart through trauma can also be treated by the use of stem cells. Reports from preliminary studies done in mice and other animals indicate that bone marrow stem cells that have been transplanted into a damaged heart have the potential of generating heart muscle cells. The damaging effects of some treatments can also be treated using stem cells. For instance, the treatment for cancer impairs the immune system cells thus reducing the patients’ ability to ward off other infections. Application of stem cells in this case would help in boosting the patients’ immune system. Most of the benefits of stem cell research have the potential of solving medical dilemmas that have been around for ages. Evaluation of the pros and cons of stem cell research has to bear in mind the potential benefits of stem cell research as potential life savers . Stem Cell Research Paper
The commercial benefits of stem cell research are outweighing the cost incurred. In the course of carrying out several scientists acquire gainful employment hence giving them a source of income. Stem cell research would give rise to the generation of billions of dollars by the pharmaceutical industry since they would be come up with innovative products that solve medical problems thus benefitting their respective nations. The cloning of animals such as cows and poultry would highly benefit the agricultural sector. Advances have been reported in stem cell research whereby human antibodies have been incorporated in cows thus boosting the biodefense system of the consumers.
3.0 Arguments against stem cell research
The continuous destruction of embryos during their harvesting may eventually lead to the desensitization of the scientific communities, regulatory bodies and the society at large to the destruction of human life. This increased social tolerance to loss of life has the potential of gradually leading to the consent of more controversial life ending processes such as withdrawal of treatment for the severely disabled children and late term termination of pregnancy.
The advance made in stem cell research has the potential of resulting in enhanced social oppression. In order to conduct stem cell research, women are required to donate their ova or embryos. This puts them at the risk of social exploitation since the male dominated medical field can simply appropriate the reproductive labor to the women for research and commercial benefits. It has also been argued that women’s body parts may end up being viewed as commodities. Their acts of altruistic donation of embryos or ova could be demeaned if the downstream users utilize them in the development of commercial products developed from the donated ova and embryos .
In spite of the obvious physical differences between embryos and humans, it is argued in some quarters that the embryos should be regarded as human beings. This argument stems from the fact that there is no arbitrarily agreed point in the continuum of life from the embryo to human which can be regarded as a significant dividing line morally. Hence if human beings are regarded as persons when they are fully developed, there is no specific line to state that the embryos should not be regarded as such. This line of argument continues to argue that in accordance to the laws of most democracies which stipulate that the all beings have the fundamental right to protect their basic interests particularly those that revolve around their maintenance of their life and the integrity of their body . This places a strong moral obligation to all parties involved in stem cell research to protect the rights of the embryos hence harming them or killing them contravenes this obligation.
Further arguments that have been advanced propose that although the embryos are not persons as some might argue, they will develop and become persons. For this reason they should be accorded the moral respect and dignity that being a person warrants. This argument gains impetus from the fact that incapacitated individuals are accorded the full rights of a person although they may lack the capacity to reason and make a rational decision on their own. However it is considered morally wrong to interfere with the right of such a person to life hence it is argued it equally wrong to harvest embryos that lack reasoning capacity, kill them and use them for stem cell research . Stem Cell Research Paper
Embryos are also said to have a status as divine creations hence they should be accorded moral importance. They are also important in the commencement of life. For those that ascribe to a theistic view of life of any kind, the embryos should therefore not be created and destroyed by human beings since they do not belong to “us” but are the property of the divine. However there is no publicly available method to ascertain the existence of a divine creator or his say on matters regarding stem cell research .


Arguments have been raised regarding stem cell research based on the viability of the embryo. Based on the premise that an embryo is entitled to maintenance of life, use of embryos in stem cell research makes it a contravention of that right as it denies the embryos that are viable the opportunity to fully develop. For this reason, some argue that the embryos that have been proven to lack viability should be the ones that are used in stem cell research.
Use of adult stem cells, umbilical stem cells or embryonic stem cells in research has been thought to be a step towards the eventual cloning of human beings. As scientists accrue knowledge on the differentiation of cells, it is theorized that this knowledge can be used to begin the cloning of human beings. This is an area that sparks several moral questions hence those against stem cell research prefer to deal with the precursor other than deal with the fully blown problem of cloning. The threat of human beings getting to a point where they can play God is still an area that sparks controversial debates and little or no consensus among the stake holders on stem cell research and its advancement .
One of the challenges that stem cell research faces with regard to transplantation is triggering adverse immune reactions. Antigens which are present on the cellular surface have the tendency of recognized by the stem cells as foreign bodies resulting in the mounting of an immune response against them. Embryonic stem cells and multipotent stem cells from the fetus, amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood possess a slight advantage over stem cells from the adult body because they are able to express less antigen molecule on their cellular surface. However this technical mishap in the course of the application of stem cell research has been argued by some ethicists as an endangerment to the recipients of the stem cell research thus a reason to avoid it at all costs.Stem Cell Research Paper
5.0 My opinion on stem cell research
Based on the arguments presented for stem cell research particularly with regard to its potential to provide solutions to many medical conditions have remained a headache for several years I support stem cell research. The use of stem cell research in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and repair of damaged heart cells is beneficial in saving millions of lives worldwide. This is definitely a price worth paying by use of embryo stem cells and umbilical stem cell research. The use of stem cell research in mass production of swine and cows can provide a much needed economic boost particularly in regions where the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. For this reason, boosting the economic status of several people around the world is worth the investment of funds and time into stem cell research. In my opinion the potential benefits of stem cell research outweigh the ethical issues raised against the same.
6.0 Conclusion
The benefits of stem research are worth taking the risk involved in carrying out stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research can be said to be the cheaper and easier option among the various forms of stem cell research. However there are problems associated with the methods of acquiring the embryos and preserving them. These areas are however being addressed by the current advances that have been made in stem cell research. Novel ways of acquiring the embryos have been developed although there is still a need for the embryos to be acquired either from umbilical cord blood or from the in vitro fertilization clinics. Several countries around the world such as Ireland, Sweden, and United States of America have developed specific legislation in order to regulate and address the present and future concerns that have been raised regarding stem cell research.Stem Cell Research Paper


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