Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (HSEC)
HESCR has been around the
science industry for many years. It attempts to relieve the human suffering and
pained caused by disease and injury. Generally, HESCR has been progressing
steadily. However, it has some large moral controversies with regards to the
respect for life, thus slowing the pace of its research greatly. These
controversies centre around the dilemma between making advances in science for
therapeutic purposes in light of those suffering, and the need to have respect
for all human life.
HESCR procedures are made
possible due to the trait of human stem cells that are able to self-renew and
differentiate into different cell types upon receiving specific signals by the
body. Its research aims to identify what these signals are and to artificially
simulate these signals to ensure cells differentiate a specific way. This
concept is used for those with treating life-threatening diseases. Because of
the nature of this concept, such procedures are extremely effective if
successful, but also contain a lot of risks as it involves modifying the
natural development in the body.
While HESCR holds a lot of
hope and promises unimaginable possible benefits, the research is halted regularly
as it has met heated debate about the losses involved. Practice of such
procedures requires the harvesting of human embryos for experimentation, which
also means that failed experiments will most definitely cause the human embryo
to be destroyed. Most people tend to find this unacceptable, arguing that human
embryos hold lifeform and destruction of embryos is seen as an equivalent to
killing innocent human beings or abortion. It is also unethical and immoral to
think that the sacrifice of embryonic life is acceptable if it brings benefits
to the future of mankind as it means that someone else’s life is prioritized
another. Ultimately, the value of human life is disregarded and this paves a
slippery slope for other research that involves the same dilemma. As such, many
countries have established laws to regulate the pace of HESCR as well as to
control the use of it. For example, US disallows the intentionally creation of
embryos solely for the purpose of research. “Leftover” embryos from
fertility clinics however, are allowed as long as consent has been attained
from the donors. There is a need for such laws to be in place as science is
progressing at an unprecedented pace and Man are not ready to embrace and make
use of this progress. Nevertheless, as time passes, more leeway has been given.
In 2009,ex US President Obama overturned Bush’s 2001 policy that limited federal
funding to 70 HESCR lines, and expanded the number of stem cell lines available
to other researches. Currently, the federal government sets aside billions of
dollars to fund biomedical research.
At the same time, we must
also keep in mind that not all stem cell research involves the use of human
embryos. Some research make use of adult stem cells and induced pluripotent
stem cells, which do not require human embryos to be created or destroyed.
Halting stem cell research would therefore mean all forms of it are stopped
from progressing, even if they are not controversial.