Numerous controversies and heated debates have been witnessed concerning the use of living beings in medical experimentation for purpose of research. The use of stem cells from a human embryo has triggered debates on many fronts. Medical experts, religious entities, government figures, and the society in general are in a deadlock over whether the experimentation and research of this nature interferes with the human life (Brody 15). The validity of an embryo as a person with equal rights to a human being provokes different reactions.
The human stem cells are said to be pluripotent since they have the ability to differentiate into cells of any other form (Østnor 4). The cells are usually undifferentiated at the time they are scientifically useful in research and medicine. These cells are usually obtained from a developing human embryonic blastocyst before a distinctive human form begins to develop. Furthermore, cells with the stem cell behavior can be received from other sources, such as the skin. Another source of the stem cells is a rare form of cancer, known as teratocarcinoma. Although it is argued that stem cells can be obtained from the bone marrow or human amnion, there is no concrete evidence supporting such claims (Østnor 3). Pluripotent cells are capable of treatment of cancer, spinal cord injuries, and other diseases.
Research and treatment using the embryonic stem cells has been a subject of debate over its moral standing and economic impact. The extraction of human stem cells from the human embryo may involve the destruction of the embryo. Some people have argued that the destruction of human embryos in order to conduct research is equivalent to killing human beings. However, scientists, researchers, and utilitarian enthusiasts argue that the blastocyst, from which the stem cells are received, is usually too undifferentiated to fit the description of the attributes of a human being. The stem cells are usually obtained before the fourteenth day of fetal development. Prior to this day, the cells of the embryo are usually undifferentiated, and the embryo has not yet attained any semblance to a human being (Potten 4). However, the capability of this embryo to develop fully into a normal human being cannot be ignored. It is significantly difficult to ascertain the exact point of development, at which the embryo assumes human status. The unsatisfactory definition of the human life fuels the debate to a virtually eternal argument. In addition, no physical experiment can prove or disapprove the presence of the spirit and the soul in a recently formed embryo. These debates have led scientist to seek other ways of getting the stem cells. The cardiac tissue, epithelium of the intestines, skin, brain, pancreas, and other numerous organs offer alternative sources. However, most of the other sources of the stem cells other than the embryo present a problem of conducting extensive modification for them to fit the purpose of research (Chiu et al. 24). Due to the existing social and legal barriers, experimentation with human beings has remained unexploited. In addition, the field of application of the stem cells in disease treatment is not well established to guarantee positive results on application. Scientists have turned to animals of similar physiological behavior to human beings in order to obtain a simulation of the effects of the application of stem cell treatment (Chiu et al. 27).
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Research on stem cells is an expensive affair with dire financial implications on any economy interested in pursuing this scientific endeavor. Disagreements exist on whether the government should give financial support to research activities that involve the destruction of the human embryo. Although the government allows researchers in the stem cell field to acquire government funding, funding of experiments that involve the destruction of the human embryo is rare. In addition, the federal government outlaws the public funding of any study that involves embryonic pluripotent cells. Nevertheless, there is the option of turning to private sources of funding, such as research institutions, learning institutions, and charitable organizations (Chiu et al. 28).
A critical setback in the stem cell field is that the use of stem cells in treatment could present serious clinical problems. It is anticipated that the application of the cells in treatment would face the challenges common to other kind of transplants. The human body may recognize the stem cells as foreign bodies leading to an allergic reaction similar to the way the body reacts to foreign cells. This is likely to cause severe or even fatal consequences to the patient receiving the treatment. In addition, the cells may induce the formation of uncontrollable cancerous tumors complicating the whole treatment procedure. These anticipated complications have not yet been established due to the lack of human trials in research. However, before commencing human trials, ways of countering these adverse possibilities have to be developed (Østnor 28). This means that unless further research is undertaken, the debate over the application of this controversial therapy remains devoid of any sense.
To conclude, research is an important field in the development of technology and advancement in the realm of physical, chemical, and biological sciences. Since research on the use of stem cells is currently underway, the government and society should support the endeavor with rationality. This mode of treatment has the capability of giving humanity the solution to incurable diseases and genetic disorders (Brody 15). However, due care should be taken to govern researchers from making gross indiscretions in the course of their expedition. The use of human specimen should be allowed, but ought to be regulated to ensure that the specimen in initial experiments does not include any organism with the capability of basic human functions (Potten 3).
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