Monday, September 19, 2011

The ethical implications of Embryonic stem cells

The main objection to stem cell research is that it involves the destruction of an embryo or foetus. For many people, this constitutes destruction of a potential human being, and conflicts with moral views held in our society. For others, the prospective of possibly providing treatments and cures for debilitating illnesses that have no cure and significantly impact on our way of life countermands this apparent concern.

When is the beginning of life?
When we consider this topic, it is important to to establish what we consider to be the beginning of a life of a human. Opinions on this vary from the moment of conception to the distinction of specific features and a living baby at birth. This issue can be sentimental to many people, and it will always be important to evaluate all opinions and to balance the harm that might be done against the potential good this research may provide for those suffering from debilitating diseases. However one thing that cannot be denied is that from the moment of conception, an individual's unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.
The other major concern associated with stem cell research relates to the combination of embryonic stem cell and cloning technologies, leading to generation of an embryo that is a genetic clone of the donor of the nucleus. What is critically different in this context is that an embryo is actually created for research or therapeutic purposes. This raises a wider range of objections, in that a potential life is created for a specific purpose.
In 2010 the first clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells took place in the US run by a company called “GERON”. They believe conditions, especially those related to nerve damage can be treated using embryonic stem cells. The unnamed patient received doses of embryo derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, drug name GRNOPC1 which works by repairing myelin sheath damage on nerve cells, could help with Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Canavan Disease.

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