Stem Cell Research and Its Costs

Introduction

Stem cells are the cells that are found virtually in all organisms that are multi-cellular. They have the ability of regenerating themselves through a process known as mitotic cell division. They are also capable of diversifying themselves into various cells which are specialized. There are currently two broad mammalian stem cells types which include embryonic stems cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are found in embryos while adult stem cells are found in adults. Embryonic stem cells are responsible for forming all tissues that pertains to an embryo. Adult Stem Cells are responsible for repairing body tissues and replenishing cells which are specialized (Mudur, p. 20).

The objective of stem cell research is to gain knowledge of how the stem cells work and also how they can be enhanced to promote health and how it can be reproduced in other parts of the body especially in some health cases. They are sure that if they successfully research the stem cells, they will be capable of achieving great feats in the medical field, whereby there is a possibility that limbs and organs can be grown from a stem cell and be used for transplantation. They are also sure that they can contain numerous ailments ranging from cancer to diabetes (McLaren, p. 326).

The researchers are sure that they can use stem cells as raw materials for virtually all organs and limbs so that they can be able to cure many of the ailments that have been antagonizing the human beings in its history. The research could also make a breakthrough in solving such problems as birth defects, infertility and miscarriages (Tuffs, p. 106).

Benefits of the stem cell research

One of the benefits is that with the research there could be breakthrough in the treatment of many diseases that are concerned with cells. One of these diseases is the Parkinson’s disease and other diseases like diabetes and cancer. The research could bring to light why some people are more susceptible to certain diseases and how this can be avoided. Researchers also hope that there will be a breakthrough in coming up with technologies that can cure such diseases as type 1 diabetes, muscle damage, spinal cord injuries as well as numerous other diseases and impairments. Already there are promising results in connection to the treatment of certain diseases through the study of the stem cell research (Hansen, p. 109).

For a number of centuries the bone marrow and the umbilical cord cells have already been employed to treat cancer and other cancer related illnesses like lymphoma and leukemia. This is mainly through chemotherapy which destroys abnormally growing cells through the use of cytotoxic agents. This has been made possible through the research of stem cells (Scolding, p. 154).

Another issue is the possibility of making transplant organs and body parts which can be very beneficial to the world. In modern times, there have been a lot of injuries brought about by technological accidents like motor vehicle accidents and machine accidents. This have subjected a lot of people to live without some very important body parts like the hands and legs and therefore result in the people being disabled. There are also other conditions which require people to have some of their body organs transplanted and this has brought about a lot of problems because at times, the doctors cannot locate a compatible to the people they are intended. Because of this issue the people some times loose their lives because the body cannot function without these organs. Some of the most important organs include heart and the kidneys. The research can provide a breakthrough and can also come up with the technology of producing these organs. Apart from the organs the research can also come up with new technologies of producing body parts so that people can access them quickly (McCarty, p. 69).

Another advantage accrued to the research is the possible treatment of various forms of brain diseases and disorders which include brain cancer and brain tumors. The brain is a very sensitive organ and some of its ailments mostly result in paralysis and death. For a long time, the brain has been seen as an organ that cannot be treated and until a few years back, there were very few brain specialists. However, the research can change the issues about the brain because the research can be able to accurately define and influence the cells that make up the brain. This means that these diseases which are related to brain malfunctioning and cancers can be cured very easily if the research comes up with a way out of the way brain cells are made and what they are composed off (Savill, p. 102).

There is also the advantage of the researchers coming up with ways of treating spinal cord injuries through the research of the stem cells. Spinal cord injuries are very severe and a patient suffering from these injuries cannot walk or work. However, researchers have found new ways of controlling the spinal cord injuries through the injection of stem cells from embryos. This has greatly benefited the people who are sick with spinal injuries and they can work and walk again (Marwick, p. 115).

The research could also bring about a breakthrough in the treatment of such conditions as heart condition and this is through the study of the stem cell research. Heart conditions have been very problematic since time immemorial with heart attacks claiming the lives of millions of people in any given time span. The heart treatment can be brought about by the stem cell research through the researching learning about how the cells that make up the organ can be manipulated to come up with strong and efficient hearts. This means that the world would not need to worry anymore about heart problems because with good monitoring hearts could be diagnosed and treated before the actual heart problem occurs. This could also be used to save many lives which are lost due to the heart problems (Holm, p. 136).

Another problem that could be evaded is such issues as hair loss and tooth loss as the research can come up with technologies that manipulate the cells to produce such things as body hair and teeth. As things stand today, when somebody looses his or her hair or teeth, they are supposed to stay like that for the rest of their lives and this has been very problematic because it brings about issues in the societal view. However, the research can come up with various ways of ensuring that the body is capable of growing this body parts, unlike how thing are today and people cannot grow again teeth and baldness cannot be prevented or cured. This means that the world will have to benefit from this fact because with the possibility of these discoveries, people who lost either their teeth or hair can retain them again. This is also applicable to numerous other body parts (Kiessling, p. 362).

Costs

The costs of the stem cell research can be summarized into three or more categories but the most important are legality, social and religious costs that are attributed to the stem cell research. In legal issues, it is problematic on how the stem cells are acquired. They are removed from the embryos in many instances and this have brought about the legal issue of whether it is right to kill the embryos in order to access stem cells. This issue has been brought about by concerned people who feel that the lives of many people are at risk especially the unborn people. There is the concern that if the government gives the researchers a go ahead, they will enter into this research in frenzy and that will jeopardize the lives of many people. Another issue about the legality of this exercise is the question about the legality of abortions as this will bring about many abortions with the researches sometimes encouraging it. The is also a concern that people may be involved in illegal sales of the embryos and this is a major issue because if the black market realizes that there is money to be made in this trade, many illegal issues may outcrop. Another issue is the issue of cloning which many people find that it is illegal and has been protested against from all fronts. The concern is that if the technology gets to the wrong hands, it can be used illegally and it is seen as other good research results which have been given to the wrong hands like the nuclear energy (Richards, p. 36).

In social complications, the society is concerned there will be a rise in anti social behavior like people engaging in behaviors of selling their unborn babies. This is very problematic and although the researchers have said that they will come up with a platform which people can donate embryos with consent of what they are doing, many people tend to believe that there will be the involvement of money changing hands. The research could also bring about the possibility of cloning and many people are concerned that this discovery could lead to the people not respecting the lives of the people. People will also be able to clone themselves and hence this will bring about a lot of social issues with the poor not being able to access the service while the rich having the accessibility and this will bring about social disparities with the rich being seen as immortals while the poor are seen as expendables (Nussbaum, p. 145).

The religious leaders and people have also complained about the research citing that the life of people should be respected and they also argue that it does not make sense to kill in order to save another. They have cited that those killed in order for the research to access stem cells are being used in such a way as expendables. They argue that the benefits do not justify the killing of innocent people. They argue that the embryos that are destroyed are denied the chance of living. In all fronts religion is about spirituality and this is mainly centered on the respect of human life and so they will hear nothing of the scientists attempt to kill embryos so as to come to a cure of various ailments (Green, p. 312).

Conclusion

The government needs to come up with guidelines and regulations concerning the issue of stem cell research. The government still needs to weigh the benefits against the complications and come up with a good legislation of the stem cell research which has brought a lot of complaints from various fronts. It should be allowed but the government will need to come up with good legislations which high regulate the research and also which deters the illegal use of the research.

Works Cited

  1. Green, Ronald M The human embryo research debate. Bioethics in the vortex of controversy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  2. Hansen, JE Embryonic stem cell production through therapeutic cloning has fewer ethical problems than stem cell harvest from surplus IVF embryos. Journal of Medical Ethics 2002
  3. Holm, SGoing to the roots of the stem cell controversy. Bioethics 2002
  4. Kiessling, AA In the stem-cell debate, new concepts need new words. Nature 2001
  5. Marwick, C President Bush sidesteps critics in stem cell debate. BMJ 2001
  6. McCharty, M Two new studies likely to add fire to stem-cell debate. Lancet 2002
  7. McLaren, A Ethical and social considerations of stem cell research. Nature 2001
  8. Mudur, G India to tighten rules on human embryonic stem cells research. BMJ 2001
  9. Nussbaum, Martha C; Sunstein, Cass R (a cura di) Clones and clones: facts and fantasies about human cloning. New York – London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998. Richards, Tessa Stem cell research. BMJ 2000
  10. Savill, John Science, medicine, and the future: Molecular genetic approaches to understanding disease.BMJ 1997
  11. Scolding, N Use of stem cells in creation of embryos. Lancet 2001
  12. Tuffs, A Germany debates embryonic stem cell research. BMJ 2001

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