The Ethics of Stem Cell Therapy

When stem cell therapy and research first started, most clinical trials used stem cells drawn from human bone marrow for the purposes of medical discoveries, to deal with a variety of ailments ranging from injury, terminal illnesses, anemia and immune system disorders, to name a few.  These cells have been used for many years in a range of treatments and the ethical debate only started when embryonic stem cells were used in research and clinical trials.

Embryonic Stem Cells

These stem cells are drawn from embryos that are by-products of clinical fertilisation. Many scientific and religious bodies have voiced that an embryo has the potential for new live, and that this potential begins at the point of conception. So, rightly speaking, the foetus holds human rights throughout its multiple stages of development.

Researchers claim that the rights of the embryo are rightly balanced out in the greater good that it might do to others, in the form of stem cell therapy. Scientists reason that embryonic stem cells are an essential tool for understanding “biomedical mechanics” in humans. This research will ultimately show which stem cells are the best for different therapies.

In the recent times, scientists have come up with lab created human embryos, which have been specially designed for the purposes of research. Even in this case, many groups voiced the opinion that man is not the creator of life, and that human life created only as a means to an end is highly unethical. Their reasoning went on to proclaim that when other rich sources of stem cells are available, like adult stem cells and cord blood stem cells, why resort to a game with human life!

Cord Blood Stem Cells

Due to the various concerns voiced in the use of embryonic stem cells by ethical commissions and societies across the world, there was a need for a new source of potential stem cells, in order to advance in the implications on stem cell therapy. This drove the study of biomedicine to explore cord blood stem cells. It was seen that cord blood derived embryonic stem cells had the rare characteristic of versatility. Although they might not be as primitive as embryonic stem cells, they are definitely more immature that adult cells, like the ones found in the bone marrow.

These cord blood cells are drawn from the umbilical cord blood of an infant, immediately after birth and stored for life. They have the potential to combat a multitude of medical conditions. Research is still underway, but researchers are confident that this would be the future of bio-medicine, where all ailments will be linked to stem cell therapy from cord blood.

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