Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Stem cells: The Great Debate
First Installment: http://bioethjpo.blogspot.com/2016/04/physician-assisted-suicide-death-with.html
One notable area of discussion is the therapeutic advancements for treatment of declining health and disease through the implementation of stem cell treatment. Stem cells are biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and divide to produce more stem cells.
Doctors, presidents and researchers have debated this exciting, yet contentious cure with an uneasy resolution. Human cloning has sparked discontent nationwide. Specifically, the Bush administration promoted an embryo protectionist position with executive order restricting federal funding.
Stem cells have the potential to mirror the 206 cell types in our human body. Scientists predict one day that stem cells will be able to duplicate entire organs and serve as transplants. In this year, a micro heart muscle was created from stem cells. Furthermore, in May 2016, a news release states researchers are presently altering skin cells chemically into heart and brain cells through the advent of stem cells.
Adult stem cells are found in nearly every tissue and serve as a remedy in tissue regeneration. The key proponent for bioethics is the usage of these cells in the destruction of human embryos for their vital stem cells. Most Americans view an embryo as a human life with great moral value and with a strong ethical need for protection. This is my personal sentiment.
There is intense bioethical issues with human stem cells for research. The collection and use of somatic (adult) stem cells from aborted fetuses and umbilical cord blood is ongoing. Stem cells taken from the umbilical cord just after birth involve the least risk with autologous harvesting. These cells are obtained from one’s own body. Yet the most intense debate is on the human embryonic stem that has the capacity to evolve into different types of human tissue.
Since 1998, these cells have been cultured from embryos giving voice to ethical judgement. Pro-life and religious organizations have been a major force driving the policy on the future of stem cells. This ethical dilemma will be ongoing for decades to come.
To advance stem cell science, there are alternative means of studying and utilizing the properties of stem cells. Pluripotent (iPS) stems cells are identified as curative and do not use the destruction to human embryos. Also, stem cells from already-deceased embryos are a possible option. Moreover, stem cells obtained from living embryos by non-destructive biopsy and stem cells obtained from somatic cells are a future option.
Pluripotent cells are dermal fibroblasts genetically engineered to behave like normal stem cells. Under the Obama administration, the bioethical stance is to lean toward how stem cell research can go forward instead of whether it can be conducted.
Only recently has there been in place professional guidance for scientists to translate basic stem cell research into effective clinical applications for patients. Today, uniform standards for cell processing and manufacture must be agreed upon by the international community of researchers, stem cell banks and regulators. Standards for pre-clinical testing using animal models must be clarified before the human clinical trials begin, and fair procedures for enrolling humans in early stem cell clinical trials must be fully reviewed.
There is no immediate solution to the ethical application of stem cell usage in curing our many ailments in a large world of seven billion humans. The magic in the properties of these cells is both encouraging and perplexing. Political support will be a strong influence to allow this study to go forward. It is definite that stem cells are restorative to our health and an option to explore with intense viability.
Useful Link: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/stem-cell-transplant/in-depth/stem-cells/ART-20048117