Friday, October 13, 2006

Stem Cell Research Controversy

Stem Cell Research Controversy
By David Mathews

Stem Cell Division & DifferentiationAlthough stem cell research is still in its infancy, there is majority consensus among researchers that many effective medical treatments can be realised through cloning stem cells. It has been shown that stem cells can replicate any specific human tissue time and time again.

Stem cells can be seen as a renewable source of replacement cells that can be used to treat a plethora of diseases of which medical science has yet found a reasonable method to treat. These include such conditions as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.

As science and technology continue to advance, the ethical dilemma placed on governments and communities also increases. Most controversy relates to the use of stem cells from embryos and foetuses. Governments all around the world, including the US have banned the use of federal funds for any research that results in the destruction of human embryos.

Most stem cell cultures used in the past have come from the process of in vitro fertilisation. In this process far more embryos are formed than are needed to be implanted to trigger pregnancy in a woman. Stem cells are also obtained from foetal tissue derived from the resulting tissue from an abortion.

Due to the nature of stem cell research, the concerns surrounding it are very similar to that of abortion. Again, the fact that stem cell lines can be developed by cloning embryos also holds great concern to many groups within the community. The most high profile opponent to stem cell research is the Catholic Church. During his visit to Europe, President Bush was urged by the pope to halt funding for this type of research.

It is believed by many that stem cell research is the future of medicine. New technologies and developments in science have always faced strong opponents in their infancy. History has shown us that stem cell research is surely to overcome its hindered development and lead the way in medical research.

About the Author
David is a freelance journalist who writes articles on almost any subject. For more information about
stem cell research visit the Cord Blood Bank.

Picture: Stem cell division and differentiation.