Over the decades, the scientists have been conducting research both in the laboratory and in the field in order to find the solution and medical therapy for a number of health infections. This has prompted extensive investments into the scientific research and laboratory experiments. Through such investments, a breakthrough has been reported with the respect to cure, prevention, vaccination, and treatment of numerous illnesses and medical complications. One of the most recent medical researches that have attracted interest from all the sectors of the society is stem cell. Stem cell research utilizes the modern technological advancement in medical therapy to solve health complications. Although this research has been successful, there are a lot of controversies that surround this research exercise. Some of them are based on the ethical considerations and economic factors (Ruse and Christopher 71). Unlike a number of medical and clinical researches with no success, stem cell research is a historic medical breakthrough in the cure of fatal medical and health challenges.
According to Panno (65) “a stem cell is a cell that has the ability to divide (self-replicate) for indefinite periods... under the right conditions, or given the right signals, stem cells can give rise (differentiate) to the many different cell types that make up the organism” (NIH). Scientific research has shown that stem cells are significant medical building blocks with the potential of saving lives of persons suffering from cell complications. Two common types of stem cells are of great scientific interest. These are embryonic and adult stem cells. However, embryonic stem cells are preferred over adult cells because of their ability to generate multifunction differentiated cells. Unlike the other trillion body cells, stem cells are unspecialized body cells with the potential of developing into a specialized body cell (Panno 36). Stem cells therefore have been used in medical and scientific research to investigate the possibility of replacing or repairing any damaged, missing, or dead cells. Stem cells research plays a significant role in the field of health care and medicine; it brings some light for the future generation through increased living and medical cure. “One major goal of stem cell research is to provide healthy differentiated cells that, once transplanted, could repair or replace a patient’s diseased or destroyed tissues” (Ruse and Christopher 77). Not only would this medical research act as a cure for chronic infections but also as a healer for the general body functioning.
This research process has generated a number of benefits that are embraced by the entire medical fraternity. Stem Cell Research would be helpful in treating medical complications and problems including: Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, replacement of damaged organs and cells, spinal cord injuries, diabetes type 1, heart disease, cancer, etc. (Ruse and Christopher 77).
The second benefit of stem cells research is that through disease treatment, the society will reap greater socio-economic benefits and gain improved healthcare for the society members. With the improved medical treatment, the individuals in the society become more productive and hence it increases the contribution to the economic wellbeing of the society at large. Generally, the improvement in health condition is accompanied by the increase in the productive capacity of an individual, which is further reflected in the society. Besides, stem cells research reduces the risks of organ transplant (NIH, 12). As observed, the process of organ transplant is very complex and is often characterized by complication and risks factors. This implies that patients who undergo organ transplant are more likely to develop complications associated with the risks involved in the process. Therefore, stem cells research is a medical research success as it reduces or eliminates the risks involved in organ transplant since it is an alternative to organ transplant.
Cost-benefit analysis indicates that stem cell research is more beneficial than the ethical issues (Parson 31-2). The research indicates that although there are ethical reasons against stem cells, the cost incurred and associated with stem cell research is insignificant compared to the benefits or gains of this scientific process. Therefore, from the point of cost-benefit analysis research, it is worth undertaking. Finally, embryonic stem cell research gives a deeper insight about the human body organs. This would be critical for the health and medical personalities in gaining more understanding of body organs, hence making it easier to understand the extent of medical complications and recommend treatment (Ruse and Christopher 78).
The main controversy surrounding this research is ethical considerations. The debate has focused on taking tissues and body cells from aborted embryos, popularly referred to as Embryonic Stem Cells. The second controversy is founded on the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS), which are derived from non-pluripotent cells, including adult somatic cells (Chapman, et al. 23). From the ethical point embryonic stem cell research involves the loss of innocent lives through fetuses’ abortion. Stem cell research would have devastating effects on good research programs such as nuclear since it may lead to human clone skills. Stem cell is one of the technological breakthroughs in the healthcare and medical sciences sector. It has got praises and is opposed by some faction of the society in equal measure. The global society considers various factors when analyzing the pros and cons of this scientific advancement in the medical field. This issue is being looked at from different angles on the basis of different social affiliations that people have. The religious community, government agencies, scientists and sociologist all have different views on this subject. The most important thing to underline is that it has positive and negative effects on the society, as claimed by the various stakeholders in the society. The first group that is indisputable beneficiary of this concept is the scientists who have at least seen a progress in their efforts of the research and development in the healthcare and sciences sector. Most of these lead scientists believe that this new development is a way forward for the cure of spinal cord injuries, diabetes, the Parkinson’s disease among other dreaded terminal heath conditions. This idea received much support from the society, especially from those who have experienced the outlined cases that this medical proposition can handle. The increasing trend of emerging medical health challenges makes the technology a well come in the better part of the society (Ruse and Christopher 88). To emphasize the usefulness of this scientific discovery, most of the medical scientists have proposed health promotion in the world to persuade many people to embrace it. This positive argument of the stem cell is on the ground of its usage of knowledge where it is seen as a potential medical remedial measure that will bring the humanity closer to cure of many medical conditions. In respect to method involved, the benefits of stem cell in the general welfare of the society far much outweigh the ethical considerations and this is estimated on cost/benefit analysis.
From the old debate that raged over the technique involved in carrying out stem cells, several pros were established. There was an argument of ethical behavior superseding the legal side in the case, where a person likely to abort due to some medically acceptable condition could donate the embryo. This is supported by the fact that adult cells are not suitable for the process as compared to the cells of the fetus and this provides a ground of reconciling a potential waste of aborted embryos to life. Further research on the stem cell concept is pivotal in giving greater insight into the basic physiology and anatomy of the body. The governments have spent millions of dollars to fund the research and development in various sectors of the economy, and healthcare is not exceptional(Parson 56). This is in line with the millennium development goals and a sign of better future through the other potential medical breakthroughs. The advances in stem cell provide more information about the alternative reconstruction materials useful in surgery on bones and tissues.
Much as this advancement has been supported, it has equally attracted opposition from some section of the society. Various critics on this technology argue that the idea of using fetus for this process is very unethical and cannot measure up to justify the mentioned benefits. This kind of opposition is more associated with the religious leaders and their faithful troops. It is undisputable fact in humanity that the destruction of one life to save another is an abomination and raises substantial ethical questions (Ruse and Christopher 88-9). The point in this case is that it would be better to let embryos grow to full human being and the adult cells be harnessed to serve this role.
The sincerity of the medical scientists about the possible application of this concept to clone transplantable organs is questionable. The essence of life is to accept the authority of God on us and this is the bone of contention between religious believers and the proponents of this medical technology. The religious society therefore rules out any positive role of this idea that explicitly goes against God‘s wish (Parson 67). This has actually led to some sort of silent protest and incitement among some people against this technology and its viability. They hold that stem cell research is likely to be carried into the future knowledge on cloning of the human being. It is difficult to say whether there is truth in this but people have experienced the devastating consequences of such scientific research like the nuclear science. They claim that despite positive intention that most of the governments and individuals have put on research and development, they later are manipulated to other things. The case of nuclear disasters and its conversion into production of mass destruction weapons can be attributed to the same scientific advancements. There is further criticism on the ground that using aborted fetus for such a practice is likely to promote the vice of deliberate and dubious pregnancy termination (Chapman, et al. 128). At the moment people are not even sure that the said benefits are viable on the large scale and affordable cost.
In conclusion, the advancement of technology in the medical field is very critical as it helps in improving the quality of healthcare provided to patients. Therefore, although surrounded by controversies, stem cells research should be encouraged and a massive financial resources should be invested in this research. The ethical and religious groups who are opposed to stem cells should embrace the value of this research in improving the quality of healthcare.