The Sources of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Introduction

The debate regarding the benefits and risks of stem cell research has been ongoing, with special attention placed on the ethics of the technology. It was proven that stem cells have remarkable characteristics of renewing themselves and become tissue, which is highly beneficial for replacing and repairing organs and damaged tissues. However, the opponents of the research method have argued that the use of embryonic stem cells is unethical as embryos are considered human life and cannot be destroyed for research (Stadelmann and Torgler 2).

Nevertheless, despite the wide range of opinions on the issue, stem cell research holds extreme potential for the future of science and medicine in particular, with the positive role in curing a range of debilitating conditions. In the discussion regarding the ethics and morality of stem cell research, finding a middle ground between the opponents and the proponents of the view is imperative as both groups are concerned with the preservation of human life.

Benefits of Stem Cell Research

The excitement of scientists as well as the general public regarding stem cell research has been attributed to the range of medical benefits in such areas as therapeutic cloning and regenerative medicine (Stadelmann and Torgler 2).

Through the ability of cells to divide and become new stem cells as well as specialized cells, such as bone, blood, brain, or heart muscle cells, it becomes possible to manage complex health conditions – regenerative medicine. Apart from this, stem cell research allows increasing the understanding of how diseases take place and what should be done to address them. In terms of drug testing, it is possible to use stem cells to verify the quality and safety of using medications on humans. These benefits of stem cell research point to the fact that the method should be integrated into every part of modern medicine for ensuring that the possibilities in disease management are explored and subsequently implemented.

Argument Against Stem Cell Research

The key argument against stem cell research is concerned with the moral and ethical dilemma of using embryos to source the cells. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are produced with the help of cells that can be found in a human blastula, which represents one of the earliest stages of human life. A fertilized egg develops into a blastula, which is made of around a hundred cells, that can survive a short period before being implanted (EuroStemCell).

In ESC, blastulas are harvested, put into isolation, and cultivated in a laboratory setting. Thus, the main argument against ESC is linked to the suggestion that using a blastula for harvesting cells means destroying the life of an unborn child. Most of the debate on the issue has been based on arguing at what point life begins. While some say that life starts at the very conception of an organism, others argue that a certain amount of time has to pass and developmental stages to occur for life to be considered present.

Consensus

Despite the opposition of the method even in the scientific community, it must be mentioned that in the industry of fertility treatment, blastulas are destroyed every year because they are produced in surplus (EuroStemCell). Thus, it is possible to use surplus blastula for medical treatment and research that has the full potential to save people’s lives. The issue of reducing waste works for such a situation: if fertility clinics get rid of the unnecessary blastula, harvesting them for research purposes is much more ethical than allowing them to go to waste (Stadelmann and Torgler 4). While using embryonic stem cells provided by fertility clinics will still be considered inhumane by the method’s opponents, the sustainability of such a solution brings out more positive than negative outcomes.

In discussing the ethics of stem cell research, finding the middle ground between both sides of the argument is essential. Debating the ethical and moral status of ESC research is beneficial for creating a set of guidelines and regulations that are used for governing medical treatments that use stem cells (EuroStemCell). Therefore, it is important to realize that despite the range of strong opinions on what is best for societies, groups on both sides of the argument are concerned with protecting human life. Understanding that the ultimate goal of both opponents and proponents of the method is similar will inevitably lead to the shaping of a solution that will address the majority of concerns.

Conclusion

The benefits of stem cell research in healthcare cannot be underestimated. Fur to the unique characteristics of cells, it will be possible to cure even the most complex diseases that have never been treated before. Nevertheless, due to the strong opposition of the method by those who consider blastulas human life, there is a need for reaching a consensus regarding the problem. An example of this can be the use of blastula developed by fertility clinics that throw away those specimens that were not used. Such a solution can decrease waste and allow both sides of the debate to understand one another.

Works Cited

EuroStemCell. “Origins, Ehics and Embryos: The Sources of Human Embryonic Stem Cells.” Eurostemcell, 2019. Web.

Stadelmann, David, and Benno Torgler. “Voting on Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Citizens More Supportive than Politicians.” PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-9.