Stem cells have the capacity to create other cells in the body, such as brain, muscle, tissue and blood cells. This is why it is considered a revolutionary option to repair or replace damaged cells or tissues, as in the case of cancer. Stem cells are present in all of our bodies and for the entirety of our existence. But its potency is higher in a fetus than in an adult body, resulting in fetal stem cell research.
The negative and positive effects it would have on a fetus led to a heated debate about embryonic stem cell research, as it is also called. There is a big question about the ethical evaluation that researchers must do. Even if the embryos used for research have been fertilized for research purposes or are aborted fetuses, they are still human lives that will be disposed of when they have served their purpose.
This is why religious groups, moral activists, and the government is opposed to stem cell research, even if it holds the key to treating the most debilitating disease and disorders that affect the world today.
List of Pros of Fetal Stem Cell Research
1. Treat a range of medical problems.
Success in stem cell research could mean the end of certain diseases, especially those that require cell transplant using cells generated from embryonic stem cells. These include Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, Type 1 Diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, birth defects, vision and hearing loss, and Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. It is also believed to cure numerous rare immune system and genetic disorders. Imagine a world that is free from such debilitating ailments. People would live longer and healthier lives.
2. Significant social benefits.
People born with birth defects, suffering from spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, and those in need of replacement and repair of damaged organs could not contribute to the society in their full capacity. This means their economic impact in the society is diminished or is lesser than those individuals who are healthy and disease-free. But if they are freed from their debilitating illness, their contribution to the society will result in economic gains.
3. Provides greater research advantage.
Unlike adult stem cells, embryonic cells are easier to identify, isolate and purify. In just 5 to 7 days, they can be harvested and then assigned a personal identity. These are all possible, because embryonic cells are just a mass of cells. Moreover, embryonic cells are free of genetic diseases, enabling them to form a reliable cure.
List of Cons of Fetal Stem Cell Research
1. Disrespect of Human Rights.
For research subjects to be derived, embryos have to be disassembled before the component cells can be grown in culture. The process basically destroys a human embryo, which goes against any religious or moral beliefs. Thus the question of morality and ethics.
2. Related to cloning.
Because human cells are duplicated, embryonic stem cell research is considered related to human cloning, which is another subject for a heated debate. Similar to cloning, most people will disapprove any use of public funds that will destroy human lives. So opposition will remain strong.