Stem cell research has gained a lot of momentum in the past few years-due to the potential and controversies surrounding it! A lot of scientists and researchers claim that stem cells can help in curing grave diseases like type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer?s disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as spinal cord injuries where as other argue about the ethics of producing them. The debate is still continues but we have to reach a standpoint somewhere, and look at the positive side than harp about the negatives!
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are the undifferentiated cells present in an organism which have the potential to develop into specialized organs or tissues. The stem cells divide through mitotic division and after division, they can either remain as a stem cell or grow into another type of cell, having specialized functions such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
Stem Cells are of two types- embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells. The embryonic stem cells are derived from human embryos or the inner mass of the blastocyst and are pluripotent- meaning that they are able to divide into any type of specialized cell whereas the adult stem cells are found among the differentiated tissues or organs and have the potential to yield the same type of cells of a specialized tissue or organ. They also have the capacity to renew or repair any damage to the tissue or organ.
There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the stem cells. The stem cells have the ability to grow into specialized types of organs- which means that they can be used for organ transplants because they can be grown to yield specific types of organs. Moreover it has been found out that stem cells can be used for curing diseases like cancer, Alzheimer?s disease, Parkinson?s disease, multiple sclerosis, and so on. So, one can see the tremendous potential which these cells have!
However, the advocators of human life despise or do not support this research because the extraction of embryonic stem cell requires the destruction of embryos- which means the end of a human life! Hence, the opposers of stem cell research do not regard it as ethical. President Bush has also strongly rejected the research on embryonic stem cells because he feels that this research in fact, destroys a human embryo! Funds devoted to stem cell research are being taken away due to strong oppositions by various ethical communities.
Even though stem cell research holds a lot of potential, yet it is being criticized on moral and ethical grounds. In the mean while we can just sit back and hope that people realize the immense value of this research and start advocating it!