The topic may be fraught with questions and misconceptions, but it’s important to discuss the pros and cons of stem cell therapy. Why are some people against stem cell research? What are the possible benefits of stem cell therapy in the field of regenerative treatment? When balancing an ethical debate, it’s important to weigh facts.
Pros and Cons of Stem Cell Therapy: A List
The Cons of Stem Cell Treatments
There have been some controversies surrounding the procedures involved in stem cell therapy. However, most of the criticism surrounding this research is related to human embryonic stem cells: the ethical questionability of acquisition, and the surrounding issues about donation consent.
1. Acquisition of Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryonic stem cells (ES) have important qualities for a successful stem cell therapy: pluripotency, unlimited capability for self-renewal, and a huge potential when it comes to the field of transplantation and tissue engineering. However, embryonic cells are acquired from the inner mass of cells of a blastocyst: an early-stage, pre-implantation human embryo. The controversy then is the isolation of the ES and how it results in the destruction of human embryos. Some people see the destruction of the blastocysts as equal to the destruction of an unborn human life, while others argue that the embryo is not exactly a human being yet.
2. Unknown Long Term Side Effects
Stem cell research is a relatively new field: the first occurrence of the term “stem cell” in scientific literature was in 1868, when Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist used it to describe the fertilized egg that eventually becomes an organism. In 2001, President George W. Bush signed an order authorizing the use of federal funding for a limited number of cell lines. Additionally, as with any new technology or research field, the long-term effects of stem cell therapy has not yet been examined.
3. Possibility of Unipotency
Multipotency is one of the most important characteristics of stem cells to be effective in treatment. On the other hand, adult stem cells, which are non-embryonic stem cells, carry the risk of unipotency. Therefore the adult cells could be pre-specialized, and create only particular progeny. Neural stem cells run the risk of producing only brain cells, greatly limiting the regenerative potential for patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The Pros of Stem Cell Treatments
In spite of the cons, stem cell research is a more than a promising field of medical research. It’s being eyed as a possible solution for diseases that are currently incurable. This is due to the fact that stem cell transplants and research explores one foundational human interest: the human body’s amazing capability to repair and heal itself.
1. Endless Medical Possibilities
Stem cell research is a powerhouse in the fields of therapeutic cloning, regenerative medicine, drug development/testing, and organ development and transplant. It will also shed light on previously unexamined aspects of early human development. All of which can potentially help in the prevention of birth defects, infertility, and miscarriages. Stem cell research will bring forth an era of enlightenment in terms of human growth.
2. Potential in Reversing Diseases
Stem cell research will usher in a brand new understanding of human physiological functions, resulting in a surge of medical advancements. It could also introduce prevention and/or cure for degenerative diseases. Some of the diseases which may be reversible through advancements in the field of stem cell research include:
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Blindness and other eye problems
3. Reversing Aging
Adult stem cells hold the key to the body’s self-repair mechanism. Adult cells are mesenchymal stem cells and pluripotent stem cells which have advanced the use of stem cell therapy to reverse aging. Additionally, through the repair or replacement of worn organs, the length and quality of human life have the chance to improve.
Here are some of the advancements by scientists in the field of stem cell research, delivered by Wall Street Journal!
Stem cell research has been through a number of debates and assessments based on the pros and cons of stem cell therapy. However, this hasn’t stopped scientists to research its potential. Whatever your stance may be when it comes to stem cell research, it’s important to consider the possibilities this research holds. Find the nearest research center or laboratory and ask around for more information!
Do you have questions about stem cell research? What’s your stance on embryonic stem cell research? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on November 2, 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.