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Human Embryonic stem cell research (heSC) is a fairly new branch of regenerative medicine that can be used for extensive medical practice. However the use of embryos to obtain stem cells is the foremost issue facing and hindering the progress of this research. In this project I would like to explore the key ethics and problems affecting heSC and why it's not fulfilling its predicted potential. Prior to writing this dissertation, I had explored the main concepts and ethics of stem cell research via the participation of a debate concerning the heSC and its application to medical practice. This subject matter is of a particular interest to me due to its complexity and its widespread controversy .Personally I support stem cell research and its untapped potential. The use of unwanted embryos to essentially promote human life is the major medical advancement of next generation. I believe that if this goal is achieved, many lives will be saved.
The term, embryo, is used to describe the early stages of foetal growth. From conception to the eighth week of pregnancy, heSC procure from embryos (hence the name embryonic stem cells). A blastocyst, an early stage embryo-consisting of 50-150 cells is commonly used as a source of most embryonic stem cells. Blastocysts are an early stage embryo containing three basic germ layers (collection of cells): ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. They are required for organogenesis (formation of organs) and tissue formation. Their innate ability to become virtually any type of cell within the body is called pluripotency. These pluripotent cells are obtained from aborted foetuses or from in-vitro fertilisation clinics, which donate unwanted embryos for research use- with consent. It has never been directly obtained from the womb. The concept of obtaining stem cells from unwanted embryos or blastocysts is one thing that evokes mixed feelings, as it involves with the handling of the arbitrary definition of human life.
Most stem cells differentiate into specialised cells. The word differentiate is used to describe the process in which cells becomes accustomed or adept to a role of a particular phenotype (characteristics of an individual) within the body. The human body has been the focus of much research and insight over the recent years. It never fails to fascinate the many that seek to uncover many of its scientific marvels. For instance, when a cell divides it becomes two, gradually four and this process carries on till we eventually have an organ (group of cells working to ether to perform a function). It has therefore for over four decades been imperative for many scientists and medical professionals alike to obtain cells from a young human embryo, reprogramming its genome to transform into all of the 200 types of cells to be found within the body. Basically performing the daily phenomenon these stem cells accomplish in the womb.
Nonetheless history has proven that upheavals, alas, will prove a dilemma for those involved. James Thomson regarded as the pioneer behind cultured stem cells was presumably the one individual having experienced the fierce criticisms and outrights by people of a non -scientific background (media). After the published his landmark scientific journal in 1998, describing the results of first cultured human embryonic stem cells. The discovery and its mass potential would have banally been a major incorporate enterprise. Nevertheless this was not so. The research has since its initial acclaim been reduced to its undermining and conflicting counterpart - the obliterator of life. From churches to the Government, every member had the one common question. How are these embryos obtained? It was greeted by the world press (as expected) publicising the issue. In the summer of 2001 stem cell research was at the top of U.S. political agenda. Those who view embryos as vulnerable, defenceless members of society, compare this development as obscene as human anthropophagy. The media often use derogatory references such as "embryo farms", "cloning mills", and so on.
The topic of embryonic stem cell research is colossal in terms of it's with scientific, political, and theological arguments. : there are a wide variety of hypotheses and arguments for stem cell research its potential , there are the sceptics which reprimand the need of embryonic stem cell research and account the moral status of an embryo. This project aims to analyse and examine this subject matter from different perspectives and illustrate the possible reasons for the criticisms and its potential benefits, whilst evaluating the latter of its validity and authenticity.
During my research period, I accumulated an array of sources to help me analyse the subject matter. This review focuses on the reliable sources (both primary and secondary) obtained, referring to them in conjunction with scientific explanations for a greater understanding.
Why is embryonic stem cell research important?
The two major characteristics of an embryonic stem cell research is the ability to self-renew and to differentiate. To self-renew means they are able to produce identical copies of themselves almost indefinitely (proliferation), whilst differentiate is the term used to identify the special ability to change into cells with specialised characteristics and functions.Stem cells are the primary source of all living tissue. A greater understanding of their characteristics enables for a fundamental perception of human biology. Diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological disorders can be treated by stem cells, which can differentiate into a wide variety of replacements cells. In the laboratory context, they can be grown into fully functioning organs and tissues and enables for the greater identification of specific diseases. Cancer the biggest human killer is caused by detective cell proliferation and differentiation. Thus, an insight into this uncontrollable cell division may lead to a cure by the implementation of the most specific drugs. Embryonic stem cells in particular, have a huge therapeutic potential as they are able to differentiate into any type of cell whereas adult stem cells are only able to divide into a limited range of tissues. Cell therapy is undertaken to replace impaired or diseased tissues with new stem cells. Currently, stem cells are used in cell therapies for certain cancer types. In spite of that, their application is still small scale. Organ transplantation is concerning medical affair. As evident from results obtained, As of April 2012 there are 7,530 still waiting for transplants. Organs are scarce, but the demand is high. People suffer and inevitably die waiting. Stem research is comprehended to become one of the major contributors of transplantable organs provided the research stages develop successfully. Researchers believe in the near future stem cells will treat most diseases. It is evident that stem cell use is promising and holds the "key" for the best diagnosis and treatments of many diseases. They are of the utmost importance in analysis of principles of human development to the therapies which involve cells based treatments
The theory and the process behind how a heSC differentiates
Blastocysts that are a week old that contain around 100 cells is used to for this specific branch of stem cell research. The stem cells lines are obtained from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst. This is due to the presence of the three primary germ layers. Germ layers are a collection of cells produced from embryogenesis (formation of an embryo. The three primary germ layers in a human blastocyst are: ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. The ectoderm outer layer of germ cells acquired from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst. The endotherm is innermost layer of cells from the inner section of the blastocyst. The mesoderm is the middle sector of the inner part of the blastocyst. The three germ layers are responsible for the formation of most biological structures within the body including: the nervous system, sensory organs, skin, lungs, other respiratory structures, and digestive organs, the gut, bone, muscle, connective tissue, kidneys, and many other related structures.
The basic steps enabling a stem cell to become specialised are as follows: stem cells are detached from a blastocyst in a laboratory setting. They are placed on a culture plate in the presence of several nutrients and growth factors where they continue to divide form more identical copies (known as aÂ stem cell line) .The blastocyst is destroyed by the end of the very first stage. Thereafter the stem line is established and they are capable of being maintained indefinitely.
The addition of various growth factors brings about the inducement of different cell types for. Typically heSC are matured on a layer of mouse (embryonic) fibroblasts and require a standard fibroblast growth factor. Optimal culture conditions are of a paramount importance.
Figure A: Explains how an embryo is used to obtain stem cells, and how they can be stimulated to divide into different forms of specialised cells.
When was the potential of heSC first identified, and who are the key individuals?
The presence of stem cells in the blood was a finding made by Canadian scientists James Till and Earnest McCulloch in the year in 1961. The research was preliminary and did not significantly change the field of medicine. But Till and McCulloch produced a foundation for heSC and other forms of stem cell research. Dr E. Donnall Thomas a highly decorated individual received every award present for his work, from a Nobel Prize to the national award winner. He singlehandedly developed the transplantation of stem cells sourcing from the bone marrow. His interest in this particular form of research increased with his early association with Dr Sydney Farber who aided him with a laboratory. Having become one of the most accomplished people in the field of medicine he developed the first successful form of stem cell transplant originating from the bone marrow. In 1956, he treated a patient who had leukaemia, with a bone marrow transplant from an identical twin. Bone marrow is the first and foremost source of stem cell to have received the attention from the scientific community due to its attained status. To build on Donnall's success a group of researchers discovers a form of bone marrow which contains two types of stem cell which primarily forms blood and haematopoietic stem cells.
University of Wisconsin, home of heSC. It obtained significant recognition in 1995 after James Thomson and his accomplices achieved the first ever isolation of an embryonic stem cell line from a non-human primate. He received patents relevant to his techniques. But a midst the success, his research was immediately plunged into negative criticism. The USA was of mixed feeling on this significant discovery .whilst the research obtained favour from much of the scientific community most of the general public displayed contempt to this form of research due to its method which involves the destruction of blastocysts (early stage embryo) . In an interview he clearly displayed his optimism for this form of research. Nonetheless he necessitates the need for extensive clinical trials and the importance of this as the basis of a greater understanding of the human body.
The three main aims of the research at Wisconsin was to use heSC as a "vehicle" for learning about tissue development , hence leading into the discovery of the genome involved in the process of self-renewal. This was reaffirmed when the scientists understood how to make the heart contract and dopamine-producing cells. The third aim was to attain approval for widespread testing of these special cells. The latter could not be achieved due to federal restrictions. HeSC has produced the pathway of research into induced pluripotent cells, these cells are capable of being reprogrammed into its former embryonic state . Pancreatic exocrine cells can be converted into the destroyed (by type 1 diabetes) pancreatic beta cells. The drugs that treat chronic conditions increase likelihood of cardiac malfunctions have been on top of the watch list for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As we know it heSC can be used to test drug toxicity. These tests will increase the quality of medicine inherently. Reducing an approximated figure of 28,000 sudden cardiac deaths related to drug toxicity.
What are the outcomes of this particular form of research?
The opposition against this form of research is immense. A common alternative that is batted around by those who are against heSC is as stated above, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC's). Criticisms for are endless, whilst scientists cling onto heSC research, the general public want it to be scrapped and forgotten. However it should be considered that iPSC's was discovered during projects on its infamous counterpart heSC. An aspect of this research that is often overlooked is the unpredictability of the outcomes. Those involved are unable to predict the outcomes. The leading researchers in this field believe that heSC have a pivotal role for the medical field and stem cells in general. The production of new cell therapies will require all types of stem cells at its disposal. Induced pluripotent cells have opened many possibilities. However compared to heSC, work less efficiently for certain applications. The distinction can be identified by the ability to differentiate, iPSC's are thought to morph less "faithfully". One of the main problems is that research into iPSCs is fairly recent and compared to heSC. It's mandatory for more clinical studies. In terms of safety, heSC are far ahead of iPSC's.
When Edward Jenner discovered the vaccine for small pox, the reduction of mortality rate was so significant, it was compared to one of the best modalities in the world: safe water. Likewise it is difficult to estimate the benefits for the general populace; this is similar for most medical technologies. Over the past century, the introduction of anti-biotic immunisation, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease is prevalent. The refining of methods for obtaining and culturing the specific stem cells for the certain diseases could lead to break through cures for even the most taboo illness. Stem cells have always been used for treatment, for example hematopoietic stem cells (cells which go on to produce blood) preceding treatments for cancer has been in use for many years. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, caused by the destruction of the cells producing insulin in the pancreas. The treatment for this is limited, limited to the extent, organ transplantation is necessary for a cure. Even organ transplantation has disastrous effects on the individual. Immunosuppressive medication is required years on end to prevent the body from rejecting the organ. Embryonic stem cells or any other pluripotent cell can be stimulated to differentiate into the specific damaged cell in the pancreas (beta cell) .Furthermore such treatments will be far more effective , as these cells are engineered to be specific to the individual , preventing the likelihood of rejection.
Neuronal diseases such as, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are caused by the loss of nerve cells. Mature nerve cells are unable to self-renew. Therefore it is necessary for this "new nerve cell" without which there is not cure. Parkinson's is primarily caused by a substance called dopamine which destroys nerve cells, whilst Alzheimer's is caused by the lack of certain neurotransmitters. The only possible cure is for the creation of new nerve tissue, which requires the use stem cells (that are pluripotent). There have been several clinical experiments using patients and rodent models. The results have been mixed. The use of differentiated stem cells is necessary for both diseases associated with the nervous system. At present there are 70 different forms of congenital and inherited deficiencies of the immune system. One of the most known forms of deficiency is AIDS (acquired immune deficiency) following HIV (Human immunodeficiency). The latter combined with almost 70 other diseases are some of the most complex illness with the worst prognoses. These deficiencies is often caused by a susceptibility to an infection i.e. diarrhoea. These can be simply cured by replacing the faulty gene in immune system with stem cell transplantation.
Cancer- a word that startles millions of people. Stem cells have already been actively used for treating patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy. Nonetheless the efficiency of this particular type of stem cells means that the immune system will never be restored to its original condition. Research is being extensively carried out to produce fully differentiated stem cells that will return the immune system of a cancer patient back to its full repertoire. Not only will this help the immune system, it will enable more intensive chemotherapy to be utilized. Gene therapy is used to replace a protein which is essential in an organ. There has been vast improvement in this area; however it's of great importance to introduce the desired gene for its therapeutic effect.
When informed about the immense scientific potential of embryonic stem cell research, why is this form of research often criticised and often limited to the laboratory?
Under the Bush administration, federal funding for stem cell research was barred. In 2009, President Barack Obama promised that the US "will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research and will vigorously support the scientists who pursue this research". The scientific diaspora in the US was more than elated. If achieved, the outcome is larger than life, words such as "incurable" and "terminal" will cease to exist says the President. Many scientists want to achieve the latter. The former President is the most significant for criticising stem cell research, as it crossed" a moral boundary. Those that follow the Bush philosophy of this branch of research view ESR as a method of destroying harmless human life. To many that do not regard the moral status of an embryo like and sustain a similar view point to Thomson, the use of embryonic stem cells is a matter of scientific interest rather than theological. In his response to the moral implications affecting the research he maintains that: the use of frozen embryos (those that are potentially rendered useless) is a "better moral decision", to create cures of diseases. The scientific possibilities of this research are infinite. Humans have always been affected by degenerative, debilitating, and disparaging diseases; the succession of ESR will fulfil the hopes of the millions daily affected by terminal and often life-threatening diseases. Furthermore the ability of these cells to replace out-dated mechanical devices such as insulin injections and metal joints to treat distressed organs and tissues with biological implements compatible to the body -is the new eon for modern day medicine.
However with the collation of the scientific rationale it is evident that interpretation of evidence and analogies varies significantly. This outlines the disparity in terms of the different views which surround embryonic stem cell research. One of the main reasons that many countries disallow embryonic stem cell practice is largely down to the ethical and religious arguments that encompass it.
Two central principles that is prevalent in most arguments: the duty to respect and value human life, and the duty to prevent or alleviate suffering. Those that support the research realise that ESR has the hope of one day enhancing scientific understanding: for better tissue and organ development technologies, more personalised pharmacology, and presenting cures for degenerative illnesses. On the contrary people realise that the research will effectively destroy a life. In the case of ESR, it is difficult to maintain the correct balance of the both principle.
On one extreme certain religions that down play the idea of humans acting as God, in regard to genetic manipulation that is associated with ESR. The fear of privatisation of potential world beating knowledge is one of the fears of those that see this research as a medium of misuse.
Extreme caution is required to prevent harm to the donors, embryos, and subjects exposed clinical trials. The unpredictable nature of research presents it with the major stumbling block, lack of funding.
Figure B: Campaign banishing heSC research by the Youth Defence.
The majority of the resentment is from religious community in the USA, this is largely down to the immense media attention of the subject matter since its discovery. As stated earlier embryonic stem cells are the most medically promising out of the variety of other options? However this often comes with a prize, the embryo or foetus no longer ceases to exist. The two primary sources of embryonic cells are from the fetal gonadal tissue (responsible for the production of different germ cells that go on to resemble pluripotent cells) or preimplantation embryos. The concluding is pressing issue surfacing the media due to its nature of destruction.
The areas of disagreement lie with the moral distinction of an embryo as a potential life form. The other questioning the entity of researchers to manipulate materials produced in the form of destroyed embryos. The answers to these questions are prone to high subjectivity. It is extremely difficult to produce an objective and viable overview of the ethical arguments.
In reference to the moral entity of an embryo or an aborted foetus. Many religions take a defensive stance. They believe that at conception, an embryo has life therefore it is in no one's best interests to decide the fate of it. This is echoed by many religions and is a view point often accepted. But the distinction of human life is often a matter some people intentionally overlook as embryo is used with the intention of saving a human. People that take the "developmental" attitude (an early embryo or foetus will gradually grow into a full human), and regards them as having the same rights as those require the stem cells.
The major sources of stem cells are from aborted foetuses and early stage embryos. This has caused severe uprising from anti-abortionists. Similarly to the opponents of abortion , many other groups support stem cell research such adjust stem cell research .And even regard the use of fetal tissue from miscarriages and still births as morally correct . Scientifically the tissue obtained from such occasions are of poor quality as it requires substaonal preparation in a small period of time in which genetic abnormalities are likely to occur . Adult stem cells cannot at this moment in time replace ESC as research is important in the stage of early embryonic development for the understanding of human developmental biology.
The ideology of allowing an act which disadvantages one but is the vice versa for another is impermissible. Furthermore they maintain that no one should appreciate, encourage, or even entertain such knowledge. On the extreme end of the spectrum, any involvement with early human life equates to cooperation with evil.
For many scientists the miniscule of hope of obtaining these cells is by reaching these materials without harming it. A technique known as blastomere biopsy enables scientists to use a single cell from a two-day-old embryo, then coaxing it to become an embryonic stem cell. The technique is unfortunately flawed as it the scientists have not succeeded in how to make the cells reliably embryonic.
The media has also marred the success of embryonic stem cell research and often criticises it with downgrading ploys. Mr James C. Dobson infamously held a devoted discussion of this topic he compared the research area similar to the Nazi experiments on live humans during the Holocaust. To add, he suggested that similar to Nazi proponents, the experimentation led to "discoveries benefitting mankind." Whilst the media is seen to be a negative influence on the research it has also overstated the potential of the research, creating baseless hopes for those concerned .Examples include the Washington Post claiming, ""Scientists reported Wednesday that for the first time they used cloning techniques to coax human eggs to generate embryonic stem cells containing the genes of specific patients," the Post claimsÂ while the BBC blares the title, "Human 'cloning' makes embryonic stem cells." The information produced by the media on this area, is often inaccurate and is susceptible to mass misinterpretation which creates a negative atmosphere for this specific form of research.
It is evident from the research the criteria or the definition of the moral status varies extensively. However this viewpoint considers the embryos worthy of protection, as they have the same rights as humans. The distinction of person hood is important. There is no fixed boundary that separates an embryo from a fully grown human. Respect is a key theme, as a developed human being if we are thought to have rights, it would be erroneous to think that an individual of younger age should be at a disadvantage. Therefore the acceptance of fertilization is required as there is no other definitive decisive moment. The only distinctive factor which separates us from an embryo is the stage of development, for example, an adult is just as human as a teenager. On the other hand, it may be argued that the transition is unknown. Basically , the physiological, physcological , emotional , and intellectual properties displayed that defines personhood , cannot be distinguished in an early stage embryo , this it is not regarded to have sanctity of life.
There are two key biological moments when an embryo is thought to have the rights of a human:
When the blastocyst is inserted in the uterine wall. This is because at this stage, the embryo is past the stage, wherewith it may twin (14 days after fertilization). When twinning is not possible, the individual (embryo) is recognised as human.
The formation of the nervous system takes place after an approximated 14 days. Take an organ donor, if he/she is brain dead, the organs are used to save a live/and or lives. Likewise it is therefore morally right to use an embryo for research provided it is in its blastocyst stage (early stage) as it is not characterised to have the same equivalence as a human.
The scientific community is divided on the issue of the ethics of stem cell research, largely due to the manner of the extraction of these precious cells. Upon harvestation, embryos will inevitably be destroyed; further halting the development of a human being. The removal of tissue from aborted foetuses can easily be used without the moral connivance in the underlying abortion. But, the irrevocable consequence of the destruction of a potential life form to aid the recuperation of a human-is the issue haunting those that oppose ESR. Many religious groups have condemned this form of research. One of the most outright criticisms of the research has been from the Catholic Church. The Church recognises that embryonic stem cell research is valuable in terms of the vast amount of hidden knowledge it has shed. However the Church maintains that it is "imperative" to maintain the life that God has bestowed. It condemns the use of embryos as mere research objects, and goes onto state that it is immoral to use tax payers complicit to aid such research. In response to the arguments frequently made by researchers: the potential benefits that will augment this research will exponentially outweigh the loss of life, and secondly what is destroyed cannot be regarded as human life. The first response is that, researchers are never able to justify the destruction of an embryo solely due to it being the very source of evil in our world (abortion). Secondly for the "greater good" approach can never be utilized as they can never erase the wrong doing of the subtraction of human life. To expand, the same ethic that is used for the justification of the destruction of a life form to help a patient today can be used to sacrifice that very patient. In regard to the definition of life, the Church believes that life begins at conception. This is due to the organism having the full biological equipment as their parents to further growth. The embryo/blastocyst is believed to have the same rights as a fully developed human being. There are three main points of view.
The last point of view is that embryos do not carry a moral status at all. This is because the fertilized eggs are not regarded to have the autonomy and the independence during their developmental stage. Thus, they are plainly part of a human. The word harmed is extensively used when describing the process of obtaining cells from embryos. To harm is to defeat the interests of an individual, as an embryo is not considered to have interests or any such thing, even with the formation of the nervous system, the embryo is unable to recognise an interest. Thus embryos are not subject to the protection of interests. In their eyes, the only respect due is to the individuals that produce the embryos. Researchers believe that the word "harm" undermines their studies as they are simply manipulating the cells into a specific cell, tissue, and organ. Others may view the manipulation as preventing an embryo to what it is predestined to come- a human.
What are the alternatives to ESR, and their relative potential?
After scores of criticisms embryonic and especially stem cell research subsisted a period of minimal media attention. After almost 8 years, in 2006 the first induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs) broke the period of silence. These cells are basically adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to have the embryonic quality of self-renewal and differentiation. Mouse cells were used to display the pluripotency of the stem cells, capable of forming into different tissues when injected into mouse embryos at an early stage of procurement, in 2007 the research made extraordinary process and discovered. The three germ layers, a characteristic of embryonic stem cells were identified in the iPSCs. It is mandatory for more intensive research and clinical trials into this particular cell type. Nonetheless this particular type of cell has already proven useful for various medical practices such as drug development, disease modelling, and transplantation medicine. It is necessary to outline the method when explaining iPSC's and it's potential. Reprogramming factors are introduced via viruses which genetically manipulate the cell type into iPSC's. The negative aspect of this method is the likelihood of a mutation leading to a cancer/tumour. Regardless the break through discovery has able to "de-differentiate" cells that have been predestined for a specific role. More importantly this brings about a change to the field of medicine, a change that is being hoped by many individuals - personalised medicine. Tissues attained from iPSCs will be a nearly identical match to the cell donor and thus probably decreases the likelihood of rejection by the immune system.
During a point of conflict, the use of adult stem cells (from bone marrow) was encouraged than indulgence in heSC. However the divergence lies between the capabilities of the two types of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are able to differentiate into any into any type of cell. Whereas adult stem cells are only able to differentiate into the type of cells which originate from its environment for instance an organ or a tissue. Thus adults do not have the necessary stem cell to aid the recovery of damage. And eventually scar tissue develops. The other key difference is the volume of cells that can be grown. Large numbers of embryonic stem cells can be grown in vitro whereas the current methods used to obtain adult stem cells need to be refined and established. In addition, due to the rarity of a group of adult stem cell, it is often hard to locate them is their pure form, without having to contaminate the differentiated cells.
What are the political and economic responses to embryonic stem cell research?
European countries that support and finance stem cell research include Belgium, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. However other countries are weary about the consequences of the research and their vision is marred by the occurrence Nazi experiments during WW2. The funding of the research is done via national trusts, not at European level. Countries that are against it include: Austria, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia Germany, Italy and Slovenia. German Research Minister Annette Schavan was quoted saying "We must conserve human life from its conception. We want no financial incentives to kill embryos."
Even with the current restriction in the US policy, ESR thrives in East Asia. China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are using the former as a method to build the very foundation of biotechnology. Furthermore the countries that ban research will see migration of scientists to countries such as Singapore. However in terms of spending, the US still outdoes the Asian nations, for instance California set aside $300 million whereas Seoul spent $27 million over a 2 year period. The restriction of ESR in the US has led to an increase in funding for ESR in East Asia. However this has resulted in the commercialisation of interests. Preventing scientists from publishing or sharing the technology, meaning a single country may monopolise on potential cures.
Taking into account all the evidence collated, it can be seen that ESR is pressing matter for both healthcare and science in general. The medical field have long waited for the "super cure" which can potentially expel debilitating illnesses and even cure cancer. ESR has made supreme progress, and still remains to be one of the most talked about research areas in the world. Critics disregard the research due to the nature of stem cell procurement; nevertheless they are unable to deny the potential it pertains. Stem cell treatment is a necessity in a world where even the strongest medicines are rendered useless. The development of the research is in some nations hindered due to the lack of funding. However the scientists still constrain to negate the outcomes.
During the course of this project, I was able to delve deeper into a subject matter that fascinates me. I found that the subject is broader than expected, and requires a thorough understanding. I believe I have improved in formulating arguments for and against with sufficient evidence to support the hypotheses involved. The collection of research sources ranged from videos to books. The notable source being the video "A stem cell story" which informed me about the basics of stem cell research and its medical application. Furthermore it has also become clear the need to critically corroborate the sources especially secondary sources. For this particular form of research it was difficult to obtain primary sources of information therefore I had to rely on secondary sources. However it was noted to be cautious when using websites or information on the internet as they are not prone to the same scrutiny as books. Furthermore, secondary sources are always prone to inaccuracies, largely down to the information becoming out-dated. It was made sure that every source was analysed for potential bias or invalidity, which can be seen with the references attached.
In hindsight, I would improve the research by using more statistical evidence, especially for the economic and political side of the topic. Due to the numerous arguments involved, it would have been beneficial to involve more religious aspects and even acquire knowledge from primary sources (religious leaders). An analysis of the manuscripts of the works of James Thomson , and also other significant leaders involved in the research , would have boosted the validity of the project , as the manuscripts are the first publication of the data and the findings therefore it is the best source of information. In terms of alternatives, if more recent examples were used, the general outlook of the stem cell research as whole would improve i.e. the conversion of skin cells into muscle cells in Japan recently. Comparing and analysing usefulness of current medical treatments with stem cell treatments is another aspect which is yet to be explored.
The main aim of the project was to uncover the viability of stem cell research and examine the moral correctness using ethical arguments. It's clear that embryonic stem cell research can and will improve healthcare and human life, provided it receives the correct support and expertise.