Stem Cell Research Pros and Cons – What are Stem Cells?
The press has recently made much ado about stem cell research pros and cons. Before the controversy can be discussed, it needs to be clarified what ‘stem’ cells actually are. Stem cells can be considered to offer the prospect of medical advancement due to their ability to transform into any type of cell. For example, neural cells typically found in the spinal cord and brain that have sustained damage by easily be replaced with stem cells. Similarly, cells that have been destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation administered during the treatment of cancer may be substituted by stem cells which can adapt according to the affected area, no matter what it may be.
The bright prospects of stem cells have prompted the outpouring of billions of dollars in research on stem cells. Stem cell research, like any other pioneering treatment in the field of medicine, has had a fair share of controversy surrounding it, leading to much debate over stem cell research pros and cons over the years.
Stem Cell Research Pros and Cons – The Good
Through stem cell research, it has been discovered that a wide variety of illnesses that are traditionally caused by the death of cells may be treated through cell transplants, and this is the biggest factor that is leading to an in-depth study of stem cell research pros and cons. A great example would be the case of brain damage, which is caused by traumatic injuries around the brain resulting in the death of cells along with loss and injuries to other molecules that are essential for the brain. Through stem cell treatments, these cells may be replaced, revived and reinvigorated very easily.
Another example is the use of stem cell research is its proposed ability to treat cancer, which is generally believed to be incurable. While only in its initial stages, gene therapy has been found to be a promising treatment for brain cancer in dogs. Stem cell research has also been found to be generally effective when it comes to treating several heart diseases. Stem cell therapy has been made available as long ago as 2007 and has reached the point where a certain portion of the adult bone marry has been successfully merged with the cells found in heart muscles.
Stem Cell Research Pros and Cons – The Bad and the Ugly
Much of the debate around stem cell research pros and cons revolves around the fact that it is widely believed to be ‘immoral’ and ‘unethical’ with religious groups and human rights activists opposing it vehemently, and there are several reasons why this is so.
When religious groups and human rights activists express their views regarding stem cell research pros and cons, they claim that stem cell research is in basic violation of their morals since there is always the potential of being able to reproduce a human embryonic stem cell. In order to achieve this, a human embryo many also be destroyed in order to obtain cells, which makes it a strong motivation for pro-life activists to oppose stem cell research as well. Many pro-life and human rights activists also feel that it is unethical to carry out an untested medical procedure on a human being, even if it is hasn’t been born yet. Animal rights activists also oppose strongly the use of animal cells for research and development of stem cells for the treatment of diseases on the same grounds. In addition, certain religious groups also believe that taking away life, whether human or animal, is sacrilegious and strongly oppose stem cell research, despite the potential to save more lives than it may take away.
Another source of controversy when one discusses stem cell research pros and cons is the manner in which the stem cells may be obtained, especially in the case of embryonic cells. The stem cells are typically obtained from human fetuses or embryos, which has led to several unethical means of obtaining and illegal selling of fetuses and embryos in the black market.
No matter what your personal opinions may be, there is no doubt that, despite the stem cell research pros and cons mentioned above, these treatments may prove to be revolutionary and effective in the treatment of most modern diseases.