Stem Cell Therapy in the 21st Century
Embryonic stem cells, which have been the main cause of controversy, are taken from embryos. These embryos are not taken from a woman’s body, but have been fertilized in vitro (in a fertilization clinic) and have been donated for research purposes (stemcell.nih.gov). Embryonic stem cells are directly extracted from the embryo in its blastocyst stage, which is the period before the cells begin to differentiate. The large number of stem cells in the blastocyst may be kept a live indefinitely when grown in cultures, where they continue to double in number every two to three days. This continuous replication creates a ‘stem cell line’ as they all come from a single fertilized human egg. The advantages of these stem cells are that they have the potential to create any new cell and that one cell line may provide a virtually “endless supply of cells with defined characteristics.” (stemcellresearchfacts.com), thus making it very flexible.
The benefits of stem cell research in general are, as iterated before, the potential for discovering treatments or cures to variety of diseases, scientists may learn more about cells and human development, the potential of drugs and medicines may be tested without the use of animal or human testers and that, based on ongoing research, it seems to slow the aging process and prolong human lives (buzzle.com, 2008).
The main argument against stem cell research is based on ethics, the fact that a human life is destroyed in the quest for embryonic stem cells. Scientists’ rebuttal is that the cells are taken before any human features are formed; therefore, technically, it is not killing. Those of religious faith are adamant that it is still the same as murder despite the endless possibilities of the progression of medicinal technology stem cell research may promise.
Stem cell research and therapy is a movement in progress in the medical world. The debate rages...