The issue of stem cell research has been up for debate since the inception of the idea. It is difficult to come up with an explanation for this controversy since people have differing opinions on this issue. Nonetheless, the advantages of stem research cannot be undermined. Successful stem research will result in advancement in different areas of medicine. This kind of research will explore areas that have remained untouched in previous research. In this view, this paper analyzes different benefits of stem cell research and how it will affect people’s life. Stem cell research will most importantly influence how people view medicine since it will be easier to treat diseases that have previously been termed as incurable. With all the advantages analyzed in this paper, stem cell research requires the support of people in the society in order to be successful.
Keywords: Stem cell research, medicine, embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells
The Pros of Stem Cell Research
Prior to any debate, it is important to understand what the topic being discussed is all about. The topic of stem cell research has generated much debate among people from different areas with some even arguing for the stoppage of this research. However, it is important to understand first what stem cell research is all about. A stem cell is an unspecialized cell that has the capability to develop into any kind of cell in the human body (Kelly, 2007). These kinds of cells exist in all human bodies but are more active and carry much potential in an embryo. This is during the early phases of development of a child. Stem cells have the ability to regenerate or renew themselves thus becoming stronger and immune to harmful organisms.
Stem cells are divided into two groups namely, pluripotent, totipotent and multipotent. A pluripotent stem cell has the capability of developing into any cell in the adult human body. Totipotent stem cells have the ability to develop into any cell in the human body without considering the stage of development. On the other hand, multipotent stem cells are those cells that can be manipulated using science to form a specific kind of cell. Additionally, stem cells are divided according to the different stages of development namely, embryonic, fetal, cord and adult (Jones & Byrne, 2004). Stem cell research, which began in the early 1960s, is the investigation and experimentation conducted by scientists to examine the possible usage of stem cells in human life. Science has always been sources of new insights helping people live their lives in an easier manner. With the advent of technology, there are even greater possibilities into what science can do for human beings. Additionally, just like anyone else, scientists need the people’s support in order to be successful. Stem cell research is one of those areas which possess potential that when tapped will be of great help to human beings.
The world we live in is characterized by numerous diseases that affect people of all races, creed and color. It does not matter what place one comes from, these diseases affect everyone and it is increasingly becoming common for people to be diagnosed with chronic illnesses at an early age. For most people, this is a burning concern since it unhealthy for a nation and cannot be said to be progressive. One such disease is diabetes. In 2007, at least 20 million Americans over the age of twenty, either diagnosed or undiagnosed, were said to have diabetes (Kelly, 2007). This is almost seven percent of the total American population. Moreover, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes under the age of twenty is increasing at a high rate. It is common to hear people say that the American lifestyle is the cause of all this and yet they are not willing to change. Another disease that is becoming increasingly common is Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms of this disease are so serious that a person loses their mobility as time goes by. Research also shows that as a person grows older, the higher the risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Others include cancer, stroke and numerous heart disorders. It is also important to note that these diseases have no cure and medication only prolongs the body’s resistance to the disease.
In this perspective, stem cell research has come up with a new avenue through which scientists can come up with cures or more effective medications for these diseases. In particular, embryonic stem cell research provides an opportunity for scientists to understand how the human body cells work (Forman, 2008). Additionally, scientists can use these cells to understand how the diseases affect the human body in such a strong way such that there is no cure. It is important to understand also that scientist will have an easier time testing the different methods of treating these diseases on the stem cells. Additionally, the need to test medication on animals will be alleviated as the stem cells give a true picture of how human beings react to different medicines.
The contribution of stem cell research to the healing process does not end here. Stem cell research can also be used in the regenerative medicine to come up with newer cells and tissues. In most illnesses, there are places in the body that are worn out and end up causing weaknesses in the body. For example, in most diseases that cause mobility impairment, there is notable degeneration of the muscle tissues. Stem cells have the ability to renew themselves and rebuilding themselves to build better muscles (Jones & Byrne, 2004). In this view, stem cell research can be made useful in enhancing the healing process for these diseases. More importantly, stem cell research can be used in growing different human organs, which can be used in replacing old worn out ones. In the modern world, so many people need organ transplants. However, the demand for organs surpasses the supply making it difficult for all the people to get help in time. In fact, it takes a queuing process for most needy patients to get a heart or any other organ. In some cases, diseases become fatal whenever a patient cannot get the organ in time. Stem cell research serves an important role in creating an avenue through which patients can access organs. Moreover, this would make it cheaper for patients to access medical help especially that related to transplants, as the supply would meet the demand. In order to make this more clear, stem cell research will culminate in the creation of therapeutic medication that can be used to ease suffering for people with chronic illnesses. Through the study of the embryonic stem cell research, it will become easier for scientists to create medications that reduce the effects of certain diseases. In summary, the positive impact of stem cell research in the healing process of many diseases cannot be undermined.
Stem cell research is also beneficial in helping scientists gain insights into human cell growth and development. This is not to say that they have not had advancement in this field. Despite the success that has been witnessed in the field of biological science, there are areas that remain unsolved. With the advancement of stem cell research, it is possible for scientists to come up with explanations for different concepts of growth and development of humans. The embryonic stem cells give scientists an opportunity to understand issues related to birth defects that appear in children (Forman, 2008). It is important to note that in America, the number of children born with defects is increasing as the days go by. Through stem cell development, it is possible to detect how these defects are formed and come up with strategies to prevent them. The scientists can analyze each step of the formation of defects through various experiments thus making it possible to come up with formulas that can prevent this formation. This would be a great step towards making developments that would enhance people’s lives.
Additionally, stem cell research can be used to discover causes of pregnancy loss. Many women suffer the physical and psychological trauma of losing a child before they are even born. This area has raised much debate and it has no results on how this can be prevented. However, through careful analysis stem cell, researchers can come up with ways of alleviating problems that result in pregnancy loss. This would be a relief for many women who have given up trying due to the many losses they have had in the past. Secondly, stem cell research can also help come up with definable causes of infertility in both males and females (Kelly, 2007). Reproductive health is one of the major areas that will benefit from stem cell research. By being able to observe human cells closely, scientists have the opportunity to understand what problems result into infertility. Additionally, it will be possible to come up with solutions to the infertility problem. This will be a major boost to reproductive health as many have lost their lives undergoing procedures that are meant to reverse infertility but do not work. With the current advances in stem cell research, such discoveries are not far from happening. All that is needed is adequate funding and time for scientists to conduct their research.
Another key advantage of the stem cell research is that scientists have the opportunity to understand the human aging process. It has been an unconquered area of science and many people have been wondering if it is possible to reverse it. Through stem cell research, scientists will be able to understand what enzymes result in human aging thus being able to slow down or stop the process completely (Forman, 2008). There are arguments against such kinds of developments because aging is a natural process. However, research shows that aging mostly results into the weakening of body tissue and immunity thus worsening diseases. In this view, stem cell research will come up with a strategy to slow down the aging process and help reduce the effects of different illnesses especially in the elderly. Aging often results in problems in mobility but stem cell research will help rebuild body muscle thus reducing such problems. The effect of such development could be of major benefit to many people who suffer aggravated pain due to aging and weakness of the body. Additionally, athletes could benefit from this research, as muscles could be renewed thus enhancing body movement.
Apart from the use of embryonic cells, it is possible for scientists to use adult stem cells in their research. Although these are harder to work with, scientists can come up with a way of making it easy to access and make use of them. The use of adult stem cells in research can be of benefit to the field of medicine as it would be easier to create organs and body tissue from a patient’s own stem cells (Jones & Byrne, 2004). This would make it less stressful for doctors who have to search for organs and tissue that matches with a patient’s blood type. In fact, there are cases where patients receive organs from similar blood types, but their bodies end up rejecting them. Through adult stem cell research, it will be impossible for a patient’s body to reject organs created from its own cells. In the modern world, such developments would be of great help since transplants are part medicine.
The arguments against stem cell research are mostly based on ethical aspects of the research. In earlier stages of research, arguments against stem cell research were based on the arguments that stem cells were taken from aborted embryos (Kelly, 2007). This aspect of research was met with a lot of debate against the researchers. However, with the advent of easier and more acceptable means of accessing the stem cells, such arguments are no longer valid. Additionally, some people argue that stem cell research can be misused by scientists to come up with other human beings, which is against God’s will. However, this argument presents a hurdle for scientists who want to help patients. It is important to understand that most scientists are focused on creating solutions to help patients and thus the probability of misuse should deter the whole exercise. Additionally, other arguments presented state that adult stem cells cannot be used for creation of specialized cells. As compared to the advantages of stem cell research, these arguments do not provide enough basis for discarding this research.
From the above analysis, it is evident that the advantages of stem cell research outweigh the disadvantages. Success in this research will result in major developments in the medicine world. Diseases like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, stroke and many cardiovascular diseases will be healed. If such success is not possible, the possibility of reducing human suffering in relation to these diseases is still high. Additionally, stem cell research will help doctors discover the causes of pregnancy loss, infertility and birth defects thus making it easier to find ways to prevent this illness. Stem cell research will also enhance scientists’ understanding of human growth and development. In conclusion, stem cell research presents an important step towards useful advancement in medicine.
Forman, L. (2008). Stem cell research. Essential viewpoints. Edina, MN: ABDO Pub.
Jones, D. G., & Byrne, M. (2004). Stem cell research and cloning: Contemporary challenges to our humanity. Adelaide, SA: ATF Press.
Kelly, E. B. (2007). Stem cells. Health and medical issues today. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.