The article, Stem cells: what’s all the fuss about, delves into the current stem cell debate by focusing on the many misconceptions regarding stem cells and the general reactions of people towards their use in the medical field. This analysis supports the presented notion that too much appeal has been given to stem cells without sufficient understanding being attached to how they can be used to resolve more complex health problems.
First and foremost, it is important to point out that the article is not entirely against the notion of stem cell use in medicine; rather, it advocates the implementation of a more cautious approach to their usage. Yes, stem cells are useful, but there are too few studies to justify what they are supposedly capable of doing at the present. Stem cells cannot repair mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s or cure genetic issues such as Chrone’s disease (Fisher 141). Despite this, they continue to be considered as a potential panacea. Many politicians respond positively to bills advocating for further research based on highly questionable stem cell research avenues such as stem cell research to cure cancer or cloning to help increase the number of stem cells, regardless of the potential moral implications associated with such a process.
Examining the Issue
One of the best examples of an erroneous appeal to stem cells can be seen in one of the episodes of the popular adult cartoon series “Family Guy.” In one episode Peter, the main protagonist of the show, suffers a stroke which causes the left side of his face to droop. While showcasing his miserable existence, the show then transitions into a scene where Peter enters into a stem cell clinic and comes out fully healed and then exclaims “why are we not funding these things?”
While it may seem strange to mention a cartoon in a serious discussion about stem cells, that episode of Family Guy is a good way of seeing the current popular culture misconception regarding stem cells. They are touted as a possible cure-all that can be used in a wide variety of circumstances; however, there is conflicting evidence to support this notion. Using the example of Family Guy once again, the apparent “miraculous” healing of Peter from a stroke is both highly unlikely and currently not feasible using stem cell technology.
Yes, stem cells can transform themselves into individual cells that a body needs, the problem in their implementation is that there is no reliable way in which they can be programmed for specific tasks. For example, could stem cells be programmed to heal the limping leg of Peter, address his drooping face as well as repair the damaged nerves in his brain? While stem cells can help in reversing nerve damage, they have not been documented as being capable of the large-scale regeneration and physiotherapy needed to repair stroke damage. Despite this, many politicians are bandwagoning on the topic, due to the sheer amount of pervasive popular culture sentiment. This is despite the potential moral, social and financial cost associated with stem cell research.
It is based on the examples provided that this paper supports the claim of the article “Stem cells: what’s all the fuss about?” that we need to take a step back and examine the current sentiment regarding stem cells. We need to determine if their current pervasiveness in the realm of research and politics is due to their actual effectiveness or simply the power of pop culture. For example, if stem cells were proven to be the panacea that popular culture makes them out to be, how can modern day society justify the potential methods that might be utilized to supply the potential global demand? As seen in the article, stem cells can be derived from human embryos and eggs, where will the line be drawn when it comes to their usage? Will a line be drawn at all or will embryos suddenly become a commodity that can be used as an exchangeable medium for money? It is due to questions like this that supporting the perspective of the article seems like a viable notion. Simply put, present day society is far too interested in the outcome of the use of stem cells rather than imagine the potential scenarios that may occur to supply global demand. As such, “Stem cells: what’s all the fuss about?” can be described as a subtle warning regarding the pursuit of an outcome that may cause more destruction than bring about progress.
Fisher, Anthony. Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.