Testing of the stem cell technology on humans is controversial because it entails using embryonic cells for research. Pro-life activists have condemned the use of this technology on the account that it does not respect human life. The technology has, however, been used to give people second chances at life, as is the case with patients with blood cancers. They get bone marrow transplants after the cells are regenerated using the stem cell technology to produce the required amount of red blood cells. It is important when arguing from an ethical perspective that one also evaluates all consequences. In this case, using one embryo to perform tests could end up saving more than one life, which makes it a biologically viable undertaking in science. The embryonic cell is favored due to its ability to regenerate cells and this can be used to create cures for fatal conditions like diabetes by repairing the cells that have been destroyed in the pancreas (Institutte for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine). It is important in this case that the biological procedures are tested on people with these conditions to establish whether it is successful. It has been tested on lab rats as is the standard procedure and it is time for the next step. A problem occurs in convincing the society that it is a safe and viable means of developing treatment for patients.
Definition of Terms
Stem Cell Research is the general word for the various terms used to design cures for various diseases caused by destruction of the cells. The terms used in this research vary with the disease that the cell can be altered to cure. They include the stem cell, pluripotent, embryonic cell, adult stem cell, iPS Cells, and the cancer stem cell. A stem cell is the cell that has the capability of reproducing identical cells. They can also split and grow into fully developed cells that are responsible for making up a complete body part like the liver. Pluripotent cells are the types of cells that can grow into any required cell type. The embryonic cell is a pluripotent cell that can be manipulated to grow into the required cell. The induced pluripotent cells are also part of the pluripotent cells, which are adult cells, modified to grow into the desired complete cell (Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine, 2018).
The embryonic stem cell is one that develops right after conception and before the birth of a child. When grown in a suitable environment, they can multiply infinitely, which makes the cells pluripotent. They can be grown into any type of cell. The adult stem cell performs repairs for the various body parts as people grow. They generally sustain an organism by repairing the cells that grow old and redundant or those affected by disease. Normally, they are found in the bone marrow where they keep generating red blood cells or the white cells depending on what the body needs. The adult cells that line the intestines always regenerate and replace the cells that the intestines need.
An induced pluripotent stem cell is the cell that is capable of forming any type of cell. It is manipulated to form and generate the cells that are required at the time. The cell has no permanent form. Induced pluripotent stem cells have been used in the development of a tiny brain that has been used in research. Through this development, scientists have got the rare chance of studying functional brain cells. These cells can be manipulated to create cures for conditions like cancer and diabetes among others that thrive through the multiplication or destruction of certain cells. Cancer cells regenerate like stem cells. This is a relatively new cell being studied with the hope that understanding it will lead to the development of better and more effective cancer treatments. It is being developed with the hope that the biologists can create a cell that would beat the creation and development of cancer cells affectively doing what chemotherapy has not been able to achieve (Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine, 2018).
When used for medical research, stem cells can provide answers for those patients who have no cure. They can point to the origin of a disease that has no current working therapy. Stem cell research can also limit the testing of animals in lab settings.
Significance of the Study
This study is significant because it ventures into a field of biology that has the potential of saving many lives that are traditionally lost to conditions like cancer and diabetes among other illnesses that affect body cells. Therefore, this study is crucial in evaluating how much progress has been made in the stem cell research programs. Seeing how far the research has gone with the stem cell technology would give hope to cancer patients if the results are positive. This study, therefore, is supposed to show whether the research is fruitful and worth funding or not.
Studying the effectiveness of the stem cell research helps biologists to find out whether it provides answers for patients whose conditions lack a known cure and show the scientists where it originates, effectively giving them a starting point on where to start seeking cures that will work on the human body after being tested on lab animals.
Background of the Research
Research on the stem cell biology has not been deeply explored. Since it was first attempted in the year 1998, it was not developed or researched with the intensity that is there today (Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine, 2018). Therefore, many studies will continue to be conducted to ascertain whether it is the answer to stubborn diseases that require cures in form of regenerated cells. For instance, the cure for diabetes may be the regeneration of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. It is documented that stem cell research is responsible for procedures like bone marrow transplants that are used in treating conditions like blood cancers where the red blood cell production is affected (Lo & Parham, 2018. The stem cell research is still not fully accepted by the society and this study will evaluate how different people feel about it.
Stem cells are considered to have the potential of developing into different types of cells. It is due to this capability that scientists hold the view that these cells can be used in treating and understanding diseases. The stem cells’ usefulness is connected to the possibility of using them to grow new cells to replace the damaged ones, offer remedy to defective parts of organ, enhance knowledge on genetic defects in cells, and research on the occurrence of certain disease and testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness. Stem cells are considered to have the foundation of every organ and tissue in the body. They occur in different types, originate from different places, and are formed in different timelines. By understanding how they work and experimenting on humans, scientists could use this knowledge to advance healthcare and find cures to some diseases and conditions.
The study of stem cells will provide people with cures for diseases that have previously proven difficult to treat. However, the cost of this treatment is likely to be too high and unaffordable in the end. The costs can be too high making most patients to miss much needed treatment. For instance, in the United States, the approximate cost per session is $10,000. Usually, for this treatment to be effective, the patent needs to go for several sessions. This means that a patient may require roughly $50,000 to get fully cured (The Niche, 2015). This is a lot of money for people who have low insurance cover provisions and lack additional funds to cater for medication. Stem cell treatment can be used to regenerate cells that have been destroyed causing a patient to suffer from diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or any other cell based disease. The study is left with loose ends because the results from trials on this type of treatment have not been evaluated and documented (Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine, 2018).
Discussion of the Research and Data
The lack of conclusive research on this topic makes it difficult to obtain statistics to support or evaluate the extent to which the regenerative medicine has impacted the society. The challenges in creating an outline for the stem cell research was in finding articles that are academic. There is also a challenge in determining whether the materials for the research topic are readily available. It was challenging to take on a research topic that is still considered controversial in the society. It is challenging to carry out a study on a developing technology in medicine if it lacks results for trials available for public evaluation (Railton, 2017). In this case, getting critical information about the stem cell research section that pertains to human tests as opposed to the traditional animal testing in lab settings was challenging.
Generally, this technology provides a ray of hope for patients suffering from conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, which have previously been considered incurable. Scientists’ ability to reproduce cells means that they can easily help a patient’s body to produce the cells that have been destroyed leading to illness. For instance, in the case of Alzheimer’s, stem cell research can be applied to replace the neurons that have been destroyed. This type of treatment, if made possible will give many people second chances. The people suffering from ALS, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases that affect the mobility of the patient will be saved. Therefore, the research on the Stem Cell biology should take the next step and set in motion approved test treatments.
The stem cell research is one of the most controversial medical advancements yet. Prolife activists find fault in the use of embryonic cells for the tests. However, biologically, it is a potentially lifesaving research study. This means that the study, if well supported, has the capability of developing cures by showing scientists the origins of certain illnesses. It will be a step in the right direction if scientists conduct the trials and further the knowledge of the technology as early as possible. This will enable scientists to carry out more studies and rectify any mistakes that may have caused some trials to fail. The tests that have been successfully performed on animals in laboratories should be tested on human cells to see their success on human specimens. This can be done by engaging volunteer patients for the treatments. This is the only way the success of the research can be ascertained. Failure to engage in trials for the regenerative medicine means that at some point, the project will be abandoned and declared redundant.
Evaluating whether stem cell research is being successful will provide hope for patients. They will have an option for treatment even if it is expensive. The availability of treatment makes patients hopeful because it shows them that they can get a chance to reverse their situations. Patients with diseases like ALS gradually lose their ability to perform simple tasks and get worse by the day with no hope for a cure. The regenerative medicine will also make it easy for doctors to identify the origin of cancer cells in the bodies of patients. This will direct the development of a method of killing the original cancer cells so that when chemotherapy kills the cells that are visible. The source of the original cells is dealt with using regenerative medicine. The trial stages for the treatment are the only obstacle that is standing between the medical field finding cures for certain conditions through this technology. The trial stage being moved from animals to human cells will eventually be reached and the deadliest disease yet, cancer, will have a cure if successful.
Stem Cell research is a major milestone for biology. Therefore, it would be prudent for biologists to carry on with their research while taking into consideration the ethical implications, improving public awareness, and understanding the regulations that surround the funding of similar projects by the federal government.
The Ethical Implications of Stem Cell Technology
There are regulations that guide the testing of new treatment on human specimens. This means that in this case, the trials may be difficult to conduct unless scientists can develop strong arguments supporting the fact that their new regenerative treatment is safe for use on humans. This is important when seeking to convince the medical regulatory body to give the funding and support for the trials. On the other hand, is such technology proves to be successful and useful, the ethical consequences of research on humans will cancel out with the number of lives that will be saved by the research.
This is a crucial step in the advancement of this technology. This is because, the lack of understanding that comes about as a result of the public getting the wrong idea of the concept can create resistance for the treatment. For instance, the embryonic cell aspect of the stem cell research has created controversy. The pro-life activities need to be informed about the positive results of the process as well as the biological explanation. This will prevent them from spreading misinformed views about the type of treatment. The pro-life activists are opposed to the treatment because according to them, life begins after conception wile according to science, life begins after the first trimester of a pregnancy.
Federal Funding and Regulations
The federal government should support the regenerative medicine research to give its citizens a second chance at life. Additionally, the regulations by the federal government ensure that even as patients seek to get treatment, they do not endanger their lives in the process (Counter Balance). The federal government should provide funding so that it is also in control of the safety of the citizens who will need treatment. The federal government should also guide the research so that it effectively supports both private and government researchers to speed up the development of cures and help subsidize the cost of treatment for patients. By allowing this kind of research to go on, the government is likely to reduce the mortality rate of its citizens as well as the amount of money that is diverted towards healthcare.
Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine. (2018). Stem Cell Key Terms. Retrieved from Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine: www.cirm.ca.gov.patients/stem-cell-key-terms
Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine. (2018). The Power of Stem Cells. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from Carlifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine: www.cirm.ca.gov/patients/power-stem-cells
Counter Balance. (n.d.). Findings and Recommednations. Counter Balance, www.counterbalance.org/stemcell/findi-body.html. Retrieved from Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine.
Institutte for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. (n.d.). Testing the Use of Human Embryotic System Stem Cells in Tissue Regeneration. Retrieved from Institutte for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine: med.stanford.edu/stemcell/reserach/embrotic_stem_cells.html
Lo, B., & Parham, L. (2018). Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Research. Endocrine Reviews, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726839/.
Railton, D. (2017, December 12). What are Stem Cells and Why are they Important? Retrieved from Medical New Today: www.medicalnewstoday.com//articles/200904.php
The Niche. (2015, February 22). How Much do Stem Cell Treaments Really Cost? Retrieved from The Niche: ipscell.com/2015/02/stemcelltreatemntcost/
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