Nowadays, a stem cells research generates a serious controversy in the society. It has become a theme to argue and debate on. Nonetheless, the relevance is the given knowhow remaining one of the biggest dilemmas of the modern world. The fact is that the capacity of adult and embryo stem cells to renew, reproduce and differentiate into almost all types of cells is rather a favorable discovery. It is hard to be overestimated. It should be mentioned that producing new cells and tissues significantly reduces the ratio of deaths and illnesses. On the other hand, currently, it is only a hypothesis that waits to be proved and implemented in a real life. The downside of this potential usefulness is that being the uncertain possibility that may or may not happen in future, it requires the certain sacrifices today. The major “donation to science” is the implementation of human embryos for the stem cells research. Whereas, it often claims to be unethical and immoral, the given application may save millions of lives and significantly improve the life quality of many people. Besides, for many experiments, the animal biomaterials are suitable as well as the human ones. That is why a further scientific work in the given field should be encouraged and supported instead of being prohibited.
Today stem cells are known to be special due to certain characteristics, such as self-renewal, an ability to produce various progeny and transdifferentiation. According to the New English Journal of Medicine, “In the blastocyst stage of the embryo before implantation, the inner cell mass contains cells that will become the fetus” (Weissman 2002). Among the given cells there are the co-called pluripotent stem cells that beget the development of all kinds of “somatic and germ-line cells.” Thereafter, the pluripotent stem cells grow into imbrionic stemcell lines (Weissman 2002).
The stages in the development of pluripotent embryonic cells and multipotent tissue-specific stem cells remain obscure. However, it is known that pluripotent stem cells produce tissue-specific stem and germ-line stem cells. The multipotent tissue-specific stem cells in the life of a fetus are a part of the tissue generation. Meanwhile, during the adult life, the given types of cells participate in the processes of the tissue regeneration and renewal.
Furthermore, another specific quality of stem cells is transdifferentiation, which presumes that “stem cells from one tissue can circulate to another tissue and adopt the developmental fate of the second tissue” (Weissman 2002). Nowadays, a lot of researches intend to isolate the cells from the inner cells mass, cultivate them and implement for the generation of “embryonic stem-cell lines of predefined genotype” (Weissman 2002). The given approach can be deployed to treat patients that require the co-called therapeutic cloning (a process of multipotent stem cells’ transplantation). The benefits of this procedure are obvious since the risk that the new tissue may be rejected is minimal.
The scientists distinguish adult stem and embryonic stem cells. The Committee on the Biological and Biomedical Application of Stem Cells Research states that, “there are important biological differences between adult and embryonic stem cells and among adult stem cells found in different types of tissue” (SCFRM 2001).
The adult stem cells may be obtained from the adult skeleton muscles. For the first time, they were detected in the frogs’ skeleton muscle fibers. Their finder, Mauro, called them satellite cells. It should be said that this discovery is critical for the world of science because it proves that the fibers of muscles are capable to regenerate. Consider the case, if there is a muscle damage caused either by training or by an accidental injury, “large numbers of new muscle ﬁbers are normally formed within a week” (Atsushi 2014). It happens due to “the expansion and differentiation of muscle satellite cells as a stem cell population for muscle regeneration” (Atsushi 2014). What is more, the researches learn that one colony is able to generate numerous hematopoietic lineages.
The embryonic stem cells were isolated for the first time by Evans and Kaufman of “the inner cell mass of a mouse blastocyst, an early-stage embryo” (Atsushi 2014). The given types of cells are known for their potential to evolve in various kinds of cells. The researches claim that it happens as a natural defense mechanism in response to some dangerous external stimuli. For instance, the scientists have noticed that embryonic stem cells can be re-programmed to develop in a different cell setting in comparison with the initial one. Japanese researchers have introduced a special technology for cells’ producing to the world. They “have the embryonic ability to turn into almost any cell type in the mammalian body – the now-famous induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells” (Cyranoski 2014). Obokata, a scientist working in this field, claims that, “just squeezing or bathing cells in acidic conditions can readily reprogram them into an embryonic state.” What is more, the researcher confesses that she is capable of reprogramming successfully numerous types of cells. Obokata reveals the statistics that, “25% of the cells survive the stress and 30% of those convert to pluripotent cells” (Cyranoski 2014). Currently, it is known that testing of amniotic fluid cells (AFCs) is utilized for a prenatal diagnosis of many fetal abnormalities induced by genetic mutations (Prusa & Hengstschläger 2002). Today, the scientists are only in a process of studying AFCs. However, they presume that the cells of all three germ layers can be detected in the amniotic fluid cells. That is why it becomes possible to discover the potential pathologies in the growth of a fetus. The given process presumes the comparison of the examined cells and the features of the normal cells’ elaboration for a certain stage of the fetus’ development.
Furthermore, the existence of the co-called Oct-4(a marker for pluripotent human stem cells) in the amniotic fluid samples helps to extend the scientific knowledge in this field. For example, the given marker is presumed to be responsible for preventing a human embryo from differentiating. In other words, it is supposed to be present in the developing human fetus in order to ensure that it will evolve into a human being and no other creature (Prusa 2003). In addition, the researchers from the Japanese Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences accentuates that the embryonic stem (ES) cells may grow indeﬁnitely whereas maintaining pluripotency and the capacity to mutate into cells of all three germ layers (Takahashi andYamanaka 2006).
To sum up the information mentioned above, it is relevant to emphasize certain specifics of stem cells under the current knowledge in the given field. First, the process of multipotent stem cells’ transplantation does not evoke any immunological rejection. What is more, relying on their knowledge, scientists argue that it does not contain any other biological risks. Besides, there should be a great accessibility of materials for transplantation since an adult stem cell is capable to grow in the geometric progression. Meanwhile, the embryonic stem cells can evolve in different types of tissues. Furthermore, it is possible to control a process of differentiation and a process of “integration into existing tissues that leads to normal functioning” (Holm 2002).
Taking into account some obvious advantages of stem cells, the scientists hope that the given group of cells enhances the possibilities “to treat or cure a myriad of diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and burns” (Prusa and Hengstschläger 2002). Nonetheless, there is a downside of the stem cells’ utilization. Nowadays, the given topic arouses a great controversy among politicians, clinicians, and legislators as well as begets the ambiguous perception of the entire society.
For instance, nowadays, it is legally forbidden to conduct a stem cell research without a prior coordination and approval of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee (HESCRAC). Furthermore, it is strictly forbidden to clone any types of live materials as, “No animal into which hPS cells have been introduced such that they could contribute to the germ line should be allowed to breed” (HESCRAC 2008).
On the other hand, if some countries prohibit this type of the scientific performance, whereas, the others support it and provide the financing, it creates the favorable conditions for a further scientific research unequally. For instance, the American government endeavors to restrain a stem cell research in order to eliminate possible negative outcomes, such as the people exploitation or some experiments with embryos. Simultaneously, the United Kingdom, China and Sweden provide scientists with a good environment for the stem cell research. That is why it is relevant to presume that such an optional prohibition does not restrain the given survey, but rather encourages its location in certain places.
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The scientific researcher, Weissman, emphasizes that, “the new question of whether to permit nuclear transplantation for the production of human embryonic stem-cell lines of defined genotype now” (Weissman 2002). Unfortunately, the given dilemma is more likely to remain as undecided because, as researchers claim, it does not bring any new issues to consider. What is more, Weissman states two major ethical questions. The first question is whether the production or application of human live materials in the research violates human dignity. One more issue to be replied to is what the chances that therapeutic cloning may cause and encourage the commercial interest in human eggs and embryos are (Weissman 2002).
For instance, Diane Beeson, the Professor of California State University, who works for the Department of Sociology and Social Service, arouses a problem of the unfair exploitation of young women. To be more precise, she depicts unethical behavior of stem cell researchers manifested in the concealing of possible dangerous outcomes or implying the language of euphemism. Meanwhile, she is describing possible negative consequences of multiple ovulations (Beeson 2006). Moreover, Beeson states that many women complain about a mistreatment of the medical personnel and point to the broken promises of clinicians. In addition, the professor accentuates that women are convinced to sell their ovas because of the poor life conditions or/and a disease of their dear ones. Therefore, it is unfair to take an advantage of their life situations. Furthermore, rather often, women are promised that their “donation to science” will help to cure their sick relatives. Nevertheless, Beeson emphasizes that it should be stated clearly that nobody knows or can predict when and whether it is possible to use the relevant finding for the benefits of the humanity. In addition, in her article, Diane Beeson detects some short-term negative effects of the ovarian stimulation, long-term negative effects of ovarian stimulation and a plausible negative impact on the offspring (Beeson 2006). Taking into account the given consequences, the professor accentuates the current ethical issue of enduring the ovarian stimulation. Besides, she assumes an increase of the women exploitation in spite of the obvious danger for their health and for the well-being of their offspring.
On the one hand, it should be mentioned that there are clear benefits seen, which are ensured by the latest findings in the field of the stem cell research. On the other hand, it is known that a great amount of the political, legislative and ethical concerns arouses a serious controversy in the society today. Therefore, it is relevant to detect and evaluate whether the pros of the nuclear transportation overpowers the cons of a given process.
To observe the pros of the stem cells implementation, one can explore the results of relevant experiments. For instance, the World Stem Cell Summit represents numerous modern experiments in the given field. Consider the case of Erika Rangel, a collaborator of Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute. She states that, “chronic kidney disease is increasing at a rate of 6-8% annually in the United States alone, but at present dialysis and transplant remain the only treatment options” (World Stem Cell Summit 2012). It should be mentioned that the transplant has certain flaws, such as the absence of an appropriate donor in the right time; and the reaction of an immune system triggering a rejection or other serious problems. Moreover, the given procedure is rather expensive and not every citizen can pay for the kidney transplantation. That is why the survey of the kidney stem cell population is crucial for the humanity. It may give the insight how to produce required kidney cells. It would help to eliminate chronic and acute kidney diseases. The findings, made by Erika Rangel and her team, have proved that, “these cells possess the potential to treat renal failure by cellular repair through multi-compartment engraftment following acute kidney injury and have important biological and therapeutic implications” (World Stem Cell Summit 2012).
Another example of the beneficial implementation of knowledge about stem cells is revealed in the research connected with a skin injury and plastic surgery. The author of the research, Nada M. Alaaeddine, is a Head of Regenerative and Inflammation Lab Faculty of Medicine, the University of St Joseph. Thus, she is a competitive expert of the given issue. She claims that, “plastic surgery has taken a new turn with the use of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell” (World Stem Cell Summit 2012). The topicality of plastic surgery in the contemporary world is not surprising because stretches, scars, birthmarks and other skin blemishes may add a certain level of stress to their owner. Moreover, skin imperfections may be a reason of job refusal or the issues in the personal life. Consequently, this health problem may significantly reduce the individual’s self-esteem. Nonetheless, there are no effective means to remove skin blemishes. Therefore, the objects of Nada M. Alaaeddine’s research are “to evaluate the regenerative and repair capacity of adipose-derived stromal vascular fraction (SVF) and (AD-MSC) on stretch mark treatment, scar, and wound healing” (World Stem Cell Summit 2012). The results of the experiment state that the application of AD-MSCs helps to cure skin wounds and reduce the size of scars and stretches. Besides, the side effects, short-or long terms ones, have not been detected. That is why the scientists believe that the given method can play a great role in the future of regenerative medicine.
To analyse the scientifically proved advantageous utilization of stem cell insights, it is relevant to observe the experiment of Rosemeire M. Kanashiro-Takeuchi, a research assistant professor working in Miami University. His research explores a topical issue of cardiovascular diseases. The importance of this experiment is hard to be overestimated. This is because heart illnesses and their complications are the main health issues of the elders today. In order to conduct the given experiment, the scientists have used laboratory rats of different age groups (young versus old ones). The results were positive for young rats; whereas, the implementation of MSC therapy for old animals did not display any significant improvements. It means that in spite of the attenuated impact on the old rats, the given approach could be utilized to treat heart issues in young and middle age groups (World Stem Cell Summit 2012).
On the downside of positive results, there are also certain existing and potential dangerous outcomes of the stem cells research. Professor Giane Beeson that studies a threat of multiple ovulations for “donor purposes” predicts “the potential for exploitation of young women can be expected to rise with an increasing demand for human eggs created by embryonic stem cell” (Beeson 2006). In addition, she educates that a drug, Lupron, used for the eggs harvesting, has not been medically approved. What makes the things even worse is that the intimidating statistics “the US FDA currently has on ﬁ le more than 6000 complaints regarding Lupron, including 25 reported deaths”(Beeson 2006). Therefore, the danger of Lupron is obvious and may be seen in a short run. Nevertheless, it remains to be one of the implemented drugs when it comes to eggs harvesting. Moreover, Diane Beeson points to the influence of numerous hormones consuming, aimed to trigger a multiple ovulation, in a long run that may be contributing to the development of hormonally related cancers. Even a stronger negative result of the flourishing stem sells’ research is the menace for the offspring. Beeson claims that ironically the female kids, whose mothers have donated their ovas enduring multiple ovulations, often have some problems with fertility. What is more, the health problems are experienced by the male offspring, who have become the victims of scientific experiments.
Moreover, there is an ongoing debate regarding whether the embryo or a fetus can be called human or not. The given dilemma echoes the issue with abortion since these both problems are based on the similar unanswered questions. If the embryo is a human being, it means stem cells experiments violate the human’s dignity and literary kill a live organism. On the one hand, some researchers find the given issue to be necessary and inevitably for the benefits of the entire mankind. Fortunately, nowadays, there is an alternative, which can reconcile the both sides. It is the implementation of animal stem cells to produce an animal embryo for research purposes. The given replacement can be effectively utilized because it begets the far less ethical issues since the live material does not belong to a human being.
It should be said that the recent findings, connected with stem cells, and the vast possibilities, which they bring for the future of medicine, arouse a great controversy and are met with ambiguity. In the present moment, it is hard to state whether a therapeutic cloning and a further implementation of stem cells has more benefits than shortcomings in a long run. Nonetheless, in the short run, the utilization of stem cells may significantly enhance the ratio of successfully treated illnesses (World Stem Cell Summit 2012). What is more, it encourages people to become immortal since it is possible to renew all types of tissues. Besides, it solves a problem of aging, which is, definitely, a major issue on the way towards immortality. Obviously, the given tendency has the certain shortcomings in a short run as well. They are mostly connected with the ethics and legacy of the human biomaterial deployment. Another significant issue that needs to be considered is the exploitation of women. It may increase simultaneously with the scientific needs for the human’s embryo. Besides, there is a philosophical side of the problem, which people employ to justify or accuse of the implementation of live materials. Nevertheless, in order to eliminate the relevant debates and ambiguity, the scientists have come up with an alternative approach. It presumes the application of animals’ cells instead of humans’ ones. To sum up, according to the information known today of the stem cells and their possible to influence on the individuals’ life, it is possible to state that the given trend has more pros than cons. However, the issues, which beget a social controversy should be detected, precisely evaluated and eliminated as much as possible. What is more, the negative outcomes of the stem cells research should not be justified by positive consequences. On the way to a better life, humans should be capable to save their high moral views on all levels of their community (i.e. legislative, political, and scientific). It is important to remember about the dignity of persons, which should always be cherished above all.
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