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Stem cell research—why is it regarded as a threat?

I. Introduction

❶Specific consent for stem cell research from both embryo and gamete donors was recommended by the National Academy of Sciences Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and has been adopted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine CIRM , the state agency funding stem cell research 18 , Embryos, while of value, are not equivalent to human life while they are still incapable of existing outside the womb i.

Table of Contents

The ‘potentiality’ problem
Stem Cell Research?
What are Stem Cells?

Much of what is promoted as being news is actually an oversimplification of the issues. Many news articles about stem cell research never distinguish between the kind of stem cell research that is being promoted. For example, the media often reports of breakthrough treatment for patients without mentioning that, in all cases, the source of stem cells is adult tissues.

We know this to be true, because embryonic stem cells have never been used in human patients, and won't likely be used in the near future see reasons, below. Stem cells are classified as being pluripotent or multipotent.

Stem cells that are pluripotent are capable of forming virtually all of the possible tissue types found in human beings. These stem cells can only be found in a certain stage a blastocyst in human embryos. Multipotent stem cells are partially differentiated, so that they can form a limited number of tissue types. Multipotent stem cells can be found in the fetus, in umbilical cord blood, and numerous adult tissues. A summary of this information can be found in the Table 1.

A list of the sources of stem cells, along with their advantages and disadvantages can be found in Table 2. Although the controversy of stem cell research is only recent, research first began in the 's.

The primary source of early human stem cells was adult bone marrow, the tissue that makes red and white blood cells. Since scientists realized that bone marrow was a good source of stem cells, early transplants were initiated in the early 's to treat diseases that involved the immune system genetic immunodeficiencies and cancers of the immune system. Bone marrow-derived stem cell therapy has been extremely successful, with dozens of diseases being treated and cured through the use of these adult stem cells.

However, because the donor tissue type must be closely matched to the patient, finding a compatible donor can be problematic. If you haven't already done so, you should become part of the Bone Marrow Registry. With the advent of animal cloning, scientists had thought that patient-specific human cloning might provide cures without the tissue incompatibility problems usually associated with transplants. Specific stem cells, developed using clones genetically identical to the patient, would integrate optimally into the patient's body.

Although ideal in theory, problems associated with human cloning have been quite formidable. After many years of trying to produce human clones, a South Korean group claimed to have done so in , 2 followed by a claim that they had produced patient-specific clones. However, subsequent questions revealed that all the research was fraudulent.

Contrary to the original claims, the researchers failed to produce even one clone after over 2, attempts. Although a number of labs are working on producing human clones, none have succeeded - even after several years of additional attempts. Therefore, these kinds of therapies would only be available to the wealthy, assuming the technical difficulties will eventually be eliminated. Three separate groups of researchers showed recently that normal skin cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic state in mice.

Just five months after the mouse study was published, the feat was repeated by two separate laboratories using human skin cells. Shinya Yamanaka, one of the study leaders later commented, "When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters There must be another way.

Yamanaka to pursue a more ethical way to generate human stem cell lines. See the full report. Stem cells have been promoted as a cure for numerous diseases in the popular press, although the reality of the science suggests otherwise. However, these diseases involve the destruction of islet pancreatic cells by the patient's immune system.

Even if tissue-compatible islet cells can be produced, transplanting them into a patient will be a very temporary cure, since the patient's immune system will attack the transplant in short order.

So, a total cure for diabetes might have to involve a total immune compartment replacement with its risks , in addition to an islet cell transplant. Proponents of ESCR cite studies in which embryonic stem cells produce dopamine in the brain of rats. In addition, it seems that the number of dopamine-producing neurons declined over time, suggesting that the cure might be just temporary. According to many stem cell researchers, embryonic stem cells are the preferred stem cells for cell-based therapies.

Viability is another standard under which embryos and fetuses have been regarded as human lives. Wade concluded that viability determined the permissibility of abortions performed for reasons other than the protection of the woman's health, defining viability as the point at which a fetus is "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid.

The point of viability was 24 to 28 weeks when the case was decided and has since moved to about 22 weeks due to advancement in medical technology. If further technological advances allow a sperm and egg to be combined and fully developed completely outside of the womb, an embryo will be viable as soon as it is conceived, and under the viability standard, life will begin at conception.

Embryonic stem cells should be abandoned in favor of alternatives, such as those involving adult stem cells.

This argument is used by opponents of embryonic destruction as well as researchers specializing in adult stem cell research.

It is often claimed by pro-life supporters that the use of adult stem cells from sources such as umbilical cord blood has consistently produced more promising results than the use of embryonic stem cells.

Furthermore, adult stem cell research may be able to make greater advances if less money and resources were channeled into embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cells have already produced therapies, while embryonic stem cells have not.

Moreover, there have been many advances in adult stem cell research, including a recent study where pluripotent adult stem cells were manufactured from differentiated fibroblast by the addition of specific transcription factors.

Newly created stem cells were developed into an embryo and were integrated into newborn mouse tissues, analogous to the properties of embryonic stem cells. This argument remains hotly debated on both sides. Those critical of embryonic stem cell research point to a current lack of practical treatments, while supporters argue that advances will come with more time and that breakthroughs cannot be predicted.

The use of embryonic stem cell in therapies may be fundamentally flawed. For instance, one study suggests that autologous embryonic stem cells generated for therapeutic cloning may still suffer from immune rejection. The researchers note that: In contrast, there are reports of adult stem cells being successfully reintegrated into an autogenic animal.

Another concern with embryonic stem cell treatments is a tendency of stem cells from embryos to create tumors.

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Watch video · Embryonic stem cells offer hope for new therapies, but their use in research has been hotly debated. Presenting the issues, rationale and key ethical arguments. Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Dilemma.

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Home > Stem Cells > Arguments Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Arguments Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research 1) Embryos are lives. An embryo is actually a human; it should be valued as highly as a human life.

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Critics against stem cell research argued that the ethical issues of scientific work on aborted fetuses did not justify the possible benefits. "A life is a life and that should never be compromised. A fertilized egg should be valued as . What are the arguments against stem cell research? Stem Cell Research I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience.

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Sep 05,  · The Case Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Interview with Yuval Levin Scientists largely agree that stem cells may hold a key to the treatment, and even cure, of many serious medical conditions. Aug 09,  · The Cases For and Against Stem Cell Research. The Case Against Stem Cell Research. A number of religious groups support embryonic stem cell research, and many Protestant sects and most.