Controversy In Stem Cell ResearchCells are the building block of our body. Believe it or not, our bodies are made up of over one trillion cells. Most of these cells have limited potential to reproduce. For instance, if human skill cells are removed from the skin layers and grown in laboratory, it may divide 5 – 6 times. Then, it will die.
However, there are special types of cells that exist to replace other cells. These cells are known as stem cells. Our organs and tissues have these stem cells to replace damaged cells. For instance, different types of blood cells are produced from bone marrow stem cells.
Although the potential of application of stem cell technology is so tremendous, the process of obtaining human embryonic stem cells raises ethical questions. During harvesting procedure, human embryo must be destroyed. An ethical quagmire is unavoidable. According to pro-life viewpoint, life begins at conception. Destruction of human embryo is no different from murdering.
Some researchers report that they try to avoid this ethical dilemma by using embryos that are not used in vitro fertility. Most of these cells are stored for a long time past their viable storage life and will be eventually destroyed.
In 2007, Japanese and American research teams find another technique to defuse controversy issues. Human skin cells are extracted and injected with artificial viruses to reprogram the cells to act like embryonic human stem cells. Another advantage to this technique is that it is much cheaper than human stem cell extraction. However, it is possible that the process may disrupt DNA and cause cancerous and damaged tissue.
Because the technology is still new, we are still unable to draw the line of how far we can go. The debate will continue.
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