Stem Cell Research: Is It a Solution or Part of the Problem?
A stem cell is an unspecialized cell that is located in the human body and commonly found in the bone marrow, embryonic tissue and other growing tissues. Medical researchers are using this discovery as a viable potential method of finding ways to alleviate human suffering caused by untreatable illnesses which could be easily cured if the ongoing research on stem cells became a success. The stem cell research becomes a controversial issue because the embryonic tissue is the most effective and consequently the most popularly used method of developing cells. This process requires the destruction of the human embryo which is a major violation to humanity and therefore a drastic measure has to be put in place in order to stop this abomination. Consequently, this paper seeks to point out that embryonic stem cell research is an unethical practice that undermines human dignity.
Embryonic stem cell technology is a problematic approach in the quest to alleviate human suffering because in itself, it is an issue that brings controversies in the society. The implications brought about by technologizing and commercialising human life has the impact of altering our understanding of the social meaning of human existence all for the sake of the selfish ambitions of a few people, who do not sit down and think about the mass destruction of life forming embryos which if left to develop in the natural process, would culminate into the formation of a human being just as the person supporting the use of stem cells is a human being. With these in mind one tends to wonder if the technology reduces human suffering or it’s a way of introducing another way of causing human suffering but in an inconspicuous method (Cregan, par 2).
What makes this situation worse is the fact that though adult stem cells have already been used ten years ahead of embryonic stem cells and that they are almost similar, it is unfortunate that the adult stem cells have limited flexibility in the number of human cell types they can produce and this leads researchers to use the next best option which is the embryonic stem cells. So there is still a nagging question of who is the most likely party to donate an embryo for the continuation of such a research. The answer is quite simple as poor women from countries that have no prohibition of such a practise are more prone to donate their embryos, which could lead to mass commercialisation and exploitation aimed at women originating from developing countries who are at a higher risk of using this technology as a means of getting ‘easy’ money (Ruse 20)
The worst case scenario in this research is that unlike the adult stem cells that have already been used for a couple of decades now and proven to be successful, millions of embryos have already been put into the commencement of this research and yet no known ailment in human beings has been treated using stem cells that have been developed from the embryos. The disappointment and alarm caused by the use of embryo stem cells is yet to increase when treatment using these cells is started since more embryo stem cells will be at a higher demand once the large numbers of rich patients with disabilities discover that the treatment is successful and therefore capable of putting an end to their suffering (Waters 43).
Scientists who back up adult stem cells insist that they are more effective and much less controversial compared to the issues raised by embryo stem cells. Adult stem cells and neonatal stem cells that are obtained from the umbilical cord blood and placenta have already been used and successfully treated more than a hundred diseases. The scientists say that the two have higher superior qualities as compared to embryo stem cells and they also do not involve the termination of human life. To help preserve human life and to end the controversies then the two methods can be used alternatively instead of using the embryo stem cells (West 103).
The risks involved in the use of embryonic stem cells in the treatment of disabilities could outweigh the advantage that it might bring after the therapy of the disabilities. Despite the high potentiality of the embryo method to have higher chances of healing, there is no cure that has been yielded by the method to date. Embryonic stem cell injections have resulted to the formation of tumours in rats that have been used to test the viability of the cells. These tests have all resulted to the death of the laboratory animals that were used for the test. The embryonic method also proves by far to be more costly, the least useful and very destructive when compared to the other two methods. Therefore, as a precaution people should question the reliability of this method and realise that it offers much more disadvantages as compared to the advantages (Garcia, Par 6).
Alternative methods of finding cures should be sought after and if the cure has to be found soon then using adult stem cells is the best way to go. The research on adult stem cells has proven the method to be effective and a reliable procedure for the rehabilitation of heart muscles and the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and also diabetes (Dickenson, par 5).
In conclusion, stem cell methods could be a good way alleviating forms of human suffering brought about by certain ailments but with the exclusion of embryo stem cell method as part of the technology used to cure. The commercialisation of human life through the formation of embryos diminish the value of human life and poor women from developing countries will be the most affected because they will be the most probable donors of embryos as an easier method of making money. Too many embryos have already been used during the research and much more is expected to be used during the treatments. Scientists are also supporting the adult stem cells method as a more reliable method which is less destructive. The risks involved in using embryo stem cells far outweigh the advantages and therefore alternative methods such as neonatal stem cells and adult stem cells could be more favourable for such treatments. The embryo method is a destructive method and raises far too many controversies in the religious and social fields. It should therefore be avoided at all costs.
Cregan, Karen. Ethical and social issues of embryonic stem cell technology. Internal Medicine Journal. 2008; 35(2): 126-127.
Dickenson, Dora. What’s Missing from the Stem Cell Debate. 2006. Web.
Garcia, Elena. First Human Trials Using Embryonic Stem Cells Draws Skeptism. Web.
Ruse, Michael, and Christopher A. Pynes, eds. The Stem Cell Controversy: Debating the Issues. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2003.
Waters, Brent, and Ronald Cole-Turner, eds. God and the Embryo: Religious Voices on Stem Cells and Cloning. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2003.
West, Michael. The Ethics of Genetic Engineering (At Issue Series). New York: Thomson Gale, 2005.