Concepts of Stem Cell Research


Although advantages of scientific discoveries are prevalent in any societal setting, majority of such discoveries have many associated controversies, which ca be economic, social, political, or ethical related. This is because; although the professionals may appreciate such discoveries, religion fanatics or other antagonism groups in the society, with different beliefs may oppose such discoveries on social or ethical grounds. One of such discoveries that that has faced extreme antagonism from majority of individual with strong religious beliefs, on ethical grounds is the stem cell research. Although medically the discovery is of help in the war against health complications such as genetic problems, tissue degenerative complications, and in alleviating health conditions associated with physical trauma, the research still faces much antagonism primary on the level that researchers in this field should advance their endeavors. It is important to note that, the primary controversial issue with this research innovation is on the development and destruction of the embryonic stem cells primarily because, many belief such discoveries have a close correlation with the human cloning concept; associated with the creation of living organisms (Almeder and Humber pp. 89-120).

Stem Cell Research

With the discovery that these specific cell types; stem cells, have the ability of differentiating into other varying class of cells, scientist have ventured into this field with the intent of discovering their medical applicability in solving or alleviating some specific types of human health complications. The main idea behind this scientific discovery is the ability of these cells to alleviate tissue complications in cases of tissue damages (National Center for Biotechnology Information p.1). Considering the importance of such discoveries, some governments have approved the concept, although still the concept faces much antagonism from some groups in the society. The main controversial issues behind the debate are on the repercussions of accepting this discovery on the society, the nature of risks associated with it, its legality, and ethicalness.

Stem Cells -Background Information

From scientific discoveries, stem cells are a class of cells with unique features that differentiate from other groups of cells. That is, this is a group of cells with the ability of replicating themselves to form other classes of cells, as individuals go through their life developmental stages. In addition to this, scientific researches have proved that, this group of cells has a tissue repair mechanism, which gives them the ability of healing internal tissue problems, which may result from accidents. Their differentiation process can result in two products, that is; through cell division, these kinds of cells can maintain their original form of stem cells, or they can undergo a transformation mechanism, which alters their form, resulting to a new class of cells. One primary unique feature with this class of cells is that, although they may undergo some substantive durations of inactivity, they usually have a special revitalization mechanism, which gives them the ability of becoming active again. In addition to the renewal concept, these cells can alter their forms into particular organ cells, which have different purposes in the human body (Lanza pp. 43-90).

In nature, there exist two kinds of these cells namely embryonic and adult or somatic cells, which function differently. The former are important products of the embryo; primarily the internal cell mass of the blastocyst, as a result of in-vitro fertilization. It is important to note here that, such cells are not obtainable from the human body; instead, the whole process is a laboratory procedure. The entire lab procedure is legal, in that, medical researchers must seek permission from individual donors, in order to be able to use their eggs for the lab in-vitro fertilization process. After such consents and subsequent fertilization, researchers provide the eggs with favorable conditions to facilitate multiplication into numerous embryonic stem cells hence, providing raw materials for lab testing and studies into the stem cell research. Unlike embryonic stem cells, the latter cells exist in un-differentiated form; although researches have shown that, they occur among differentiated cells. Their occurrence among specialized cells gives them the ability to replicate themselves hence, forming cells that resemble cells that function in such specific tissue organs, in terms of working. In addition, such a replication process gives them the ability of dealing with any tissue anomalies, which may occur in areas they occupy. On the other hand, it is important tom note that, unlike the former cell types, which originate from the blastocyst, scientific researchers have not yet unraveled the source of the adult form of these cells hence, leaving room for more researches (National Academy of Sciences pp. 1-4).

The fact that adult stem cells occur in most body tissues has led to more scientific researches in the endeavor to discover their ability and effects during the organ transplant exercise. This is because; for than forty years medics have used the adult type of the hematopoietic stem cells in some organ transfer cases. It is important to here that, regardless of the type of stem cells, they all fall under the un-specialized class of cells; a fact that research findings associate with their ability to replicate into more special forms of other cells; through differentiation , which have specific functions in the human body (Turksen pp. 1-6).

Benefits of Stem Cells

Embryonic cells being an important component of the human development process, discovery of their real nature and working mechanism can provide a scientific background of basing the entire human development concept. That is, in this like a research, the primary aims will be to discover the scientific ideologies behind the differentiation process, because of the change process; from an un-differentiated form to a differentiated form, which is prevalent in stem cells. In addition, discoveries in this field can be important in unraveling the scientific ideology behind the occurrence of some birth defects and dangerous health complications for example, cancer hence provide appropriate remedies to them. This is possible owing to the fact that, majority of this medical condition occur as a result of cell differentiation hence, success in these research can be an important toll of minimizing deaths and other health complications associated with these health complications (National Institute of Health Resources for Stem Cell Research pp. 2-7).

Apart from providing remedies to the current cell-differentiation associated complications, successful researches in this medical field can be crucial in the pharmacy field. That is, these research endeavors can give a methodology of ascertaining the safety of new medication; a concept that will utilize the differentiation ideology of these cells, primarily using the pluripotent characteristics of the human cells. On the other hand, because these types of cells have the tissue repairing ability, advanced discoveries in this field can be crucial in the process of developing tissues and cells crucial in the cell therapy process. Achievement of this can also provide deficit organ transfer deficit problems faced by many health institutions, as they endeavor to provide solutions to patient with stroke, diabetes, arthritis, spinal injuries and other tissue complications (Cell Therapy Foundations p. 1).

Controversies Surrounding the Research

Although this research seems to have many medical applications, which are crucial in the endeavor to alleviate human suffering, the whole concept faces many antagonism from most religion fanatics. The primary controversial issue about this research primarily is on the existence of the embryo. Antagonists of this idea have a notion that, human life commences at fertilization, hence the idea of destroying human embryos laws of human existence, which dictate that, regardless of the state of human being, there is need for respect and value of life. In addition, the fact that scientific discoveries involves numerous tests, concretes the fact that, the entire process is ethically wrong, hence the need to do away with it (Johnson and Williams pp. 39-40)

In addition to the respect idea, majority of antagonist of this research endeavor argue that, there is a close correlation between this concept and human cloning; hence, unless governments take precaution, chances of research findings devaluing human life are high. Majority of supporters term this argument as baseless or grounds that, any research attempts depends on individual decision and ultimate acceptance to donate cells for such research undertakings. In addition, supporters argue that, such researches are crucial in unraveling the causative agents of the numerous complex human diseases. Hence, discoveries in this field can alleviate the human suffering, through providing remedies to many human diseases that have adverse impacts on one’s health (Johnson and Williams p. 42-43).

Such controversies; the legality and ethicalness of the research undertaking has seen the reduction of governmental support, it terms of funds to the initiative in many countries, a fact that has contributed to the staling of such research innovations hence, the need for governments re-examine the concept and adopt what the United states government did. This should be the case because the research initiative is of great medical significance.


Personal Thoughts

Although some arguments from religious fanatics may have a biblical base, still one question arises; do these antagonists of this research initiative really realize the importance of this like medical initiative? This is because; these cells have the ability of developing into any form of specialized cells, a factor that makes them very important in medicine. For example, in the management of cancer via chemotherapy, likelihoods of radiations damaging or destroying some cells are high; however, with this kind of technological advancement, such problems have a remedy, owing to the fact that these cells have the ability of replicating themselves to form other types of cells. Therefore, noting the medical importance of this research, it is important for individuals to support this initiative, for not only will offer treatments to present complex medical conditions, but also it may offer more help in the future. This is because; as every day passes, more diseases emerge, some of which lack a scientific explanation hence, with this technology, chances of alleviating such medical complications are high. The argument by religious fanatics that life commences immediately after fertilization hence, humans should endeavor to save such lives is correct to some extent. However, why loose many lives, in the name of saving a life that is not yet recognizable? Again, why leave present human suffering to persist while there is a medical remedy that can offer solutions to their health problems? Considering these issues, and the fact that scientist utilize such cells primarily for research purposes, it is important for countries to reconsider their guidelines on stem research, hence increase subsidies and support to such programs.

Works Cited

Almeder, Robert and Humber, James. Stem cell research. New Jersey: Humana Press Inc, 2004. Web.

Cell Therapy Foundations. Why is Adult Stem Cell Research Important? Cell Therapy Foundation. 2009. Web.

Johnson, Judith and Williams, Erin. CRS Report for Congress: Stem Cell Research. CRS, 2006. Web.

Lanza, Robert. Essentials of stem cell biology. Massachusetts: Elsevier Academic Press, 2006. Web.

National Academy of Sciences. Stem cells basics-types of stem cells. National Academies. 2009. Web.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. What are stem cells? Stem Cell Research. 2010.Web.

The National Institute of Health Resources for Stem Cell Research. Stem cell Basics. Stem Cell Information, 2009. Web.

Turksen, Kursad. Adult stem cells. New Jersey: Humana Press Inc, 2004. Web.