Today, say that embryos have no moral status

Today,stem cell research particularly embryonic stem cell has been one of the mostremarkable areas of medical research. Joshi et al. (2016) affirm that stem cellresearch has opened up a fascinating branch of research with its ability todivide throughout life, differentiate into many different types of specializedcells and eventually cure a plethora of diseases, namely leukemia, diabetes andParkinson’s disease. According to Vittana (2017), more than 60 diseases andover 6,000 patients have been treated with a treatment that maneuvers the useof cord blood stem cell.

However, stem cell research has been tainted with debateand controversy since the discovery of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) in 1998(Joshi et al., 2016). The advancement of hESC research has been slowed by notonly ethical issues but also legal and social controversy (Joshi et al., 2016).It creates many questions which must be answered.

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Here, we strongly opposehuman embryonic stem cell research and we will discuss on our reasons of theobjection from various perspectives, and suggest a better approach to continuestem cell research without involving hESC. Patil(2014) states that question of ethics and moral values arise as the process ofextracting stem cells destroys the embryos, and will eventually lead to thedestruction of potential human life. However, since embryos do not exhibit thecharacteristics of personhood in their early development stage, Patil (2014)believes that embryos are merely one of the parts of human body and they deservethe respect for their unique values but not to the extent as a fully developedperson. In order for them to have moral status independently, Patil (2014)outlines several properties which they need to acquire which are psychological,physiological, emotional and intellectual properties. Therefore, under thesecircumstances, embryos are believed can be used for research purpose. Arguably,it is rather doubtful to say that embryos have no moral status at all and havethe same status as other body parts of a human. Although embryos do not possessthe important attributes of personhood in the very beginning of their existence,they will somehow exhibit them if they are allowed to develop and fulfill theirpotential as human beings (Euro Stem Cell, 2011). Thus, embryos deserve thesame respect and right, equivalently with an adult or a newborn child.

United States National Library ofMedicine (NLM) (2009) states that, in 2001, the use of stem cell lines wasannounced permissible by President Bush as long as they are derived from thedestroyed embryos, and not from the new ones. Embryonic stem cell lines arepluripotent embryonic stem cells which are grown in cell culture for months andremain undifferentiated (Mandal, 2013). Mandal (2013) also highlights that thesestem cell lines then will be able to differentiate into desired cell type. Inother words, they will behave and function like a normal hESC. However, thereare still unforeseeable benefit and risk in this research. Vittana (2017)explains that if stem cell lines are derived from the existing embryonic stemcells and do not belong to the patient, the possibility of the patient’s bodyto reject them is high.

What is more crucial is, although National Institutesof Health (NIH) opposes the further destruction of human embryos for researchpurpose, the question on the moral status of the destroyed embryos still lieunresolved since the use of existing embryonic stem cell lines is stillallowed. Overall, the complicity in exploiting the destroyed embryos is animmoral act. Thereis no doubt that embryonic stem cell research offers a valuable chance to studymore about diseases and how to develop the cures. In response to thisundeniable fact, NLM (2009) states that NIH has diligently supplied its fundingto stem cell research particularlyhESC research since 2001.

However, as a public funder, NIHis responsible to allocate its resources in a just manner. On top of thisissue, Dresser (2010) argues that embryonic stem cell-based treatment isrelatively an expensive treatment and not all people can afford it due to the economicbarrier. This, therefore, raises some questions; does hESC research is aimingto help people all over the globe and does it deserves the funding from NIH? Inaddition, since most of the researchers concentrate on wealthy nations and healthproblems of people there, Dresser (2010) highlights another social injusticeissue. The issue is questioning whether NIH and US government have the desireto improve the health of people in poor nations which continued to decline bytime or the research funding decision is influenced by congressional politics(Dresser, 2010). As expressed, it is unfair to devote a lot of money to theresearch while there are still so many people suffering from lack of access tobasic health care especially those who live in poor countries.HumanEmbryonic Stem Cell research is one of the most promising areas of medicalstudy but it is still at its infant stage (citation). Therefore, there might beseveral unavoidable flaws which likely to occur such as rejection from thepatient’s body. Joshi et al.

(2016) report that rejection rates for embryonicstem cell therapies are likely to be high as stem cells which are derived fromembryos that are not patients own will trigger the activation of immune system andin the end, body system will recognize the cells as foreign cells. Based on a recentstudy, Vittana (2017) highlights another health problem that is possible to appear during thetreatment which is the development of tumors. Development of these tumorshappened as a result of the uncontrolled dividing process of embryonic stemcells. Another research proves that the implementation of embryonic stem cell ina treatment involving heart disease patients has led to the narrower ofcoronary arteries (Joshi et al., 2016).

Generally, the condition of the patientbecame worsened and it subsequently leaves a negative impact on embryonic stemcell treatment. Despite all the benefits hESC might contribute for a better healthcare in the future, this therapy seems to have many drawbacks which makes it amediocre approach and a better approach is necessary.Countries around the world have outlinedseveral restrictions on embryonic and fetal research as a response to the variouscontroversies overstem cell research specifically embryonic stem cell research. Legislationsgoverning embryonic stem cells are diverse and vary across countries all overthe globe (National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 2016). Accordingto The New Atlantis (2012), in Italy, they imposed strict laws in regulatingembryonic stem cells research based on Law 40 which came into effect on March10, 2004, and the law stated that both embryos research and research on humanembryos are banned including the use of embryos in determining the embryoniccells lines. Italian law also provides penal provision ranging from ten totwenty years for impermissible experimentation on embryos (The New Atlantis,2012).  NCSL (2016) reports that underSouth Dakota law enacted in 2000, it strictly prohibits the research on embryosregardless of their sources. Furthermore, according to South Dakota law, the annihilationof embryos to run non-therapeutic research is considered as a crime (NCSL,2016).

Hence, the formation and existence of effective legislation concerningrestriction on embryonic research demonstrates how harmful this experimentationcould be. Indeed, looked at as a whole, it may not necessary to use embryonic stemcells to pursue stem cell research. Adult stem cell, therefore, might be abetter choice. Salim (2015) asserts that adult stem cells have been used morethan 40 years as active agents for bone marrow transplantations to cure variousblood disorders such as leukemia, anemia, blood cancers and immune systemdysfunctions. Interestingly, a new approach called “induced pluripotent stemcells ((iPSCs) has been introduced (Patil, 2014). Salim (2015) explains that a recentresearch showed that adult stem cells can be reprogrammed to become inducedpluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), cells that behave and in the meantime canperform the same function as embryonic stem cells. Through iPCS reprogramming, anytypes of cell tissues can be generated from adult stem cells (Vitanna, 2017).

This includes the involvement ofreversing the differentiating cell signals to produced desired or specializedcells (Joshi et al). Apart from that, Kirsten Riggan (2011) argues that directcell reprogramming can be implemented in biomedical field as it has a higherpercentage of success compare to human embryonic stem cell which is still atits infancy. As expressed, iPSCs are produced in a more ethical waywithout the destruction of human embryos compared to how embryonic stem cellsare derived. In general, it is proven that the use of iPSCs in stem cellresearch can avoid technical challenges and social controversies.In a nutshell, human embryonic stemcells offer a better chance in treating malignancies diseases but inflict manyissues in term of moral, funding and in the establishment of law in the effectivenessof the clinical application in the future. Stem cell research is advancingbeyond time despite all of the controversies it has faced.

Thus, all parties includingpolicy-makers, ethicists, and researchers should think of the right way topursue this research without violating human subjects. Adult stem cell researchmay be the best answer for this problem. Therefore, we should focus more onthis research to increase the effectiveness and efficiencies of the adult stemcell application in future.

 

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