Stem cells were explored in the embryos of mice by scientists two decades ago. In 1998, the scientists found the properties of stem cells as well as ways of isolating them from humans, thereby enabling the stem cells to be grown in laboratories. Stem cells refer to a particular undifferentiated cell that belongs to a multicellular organism, which has the capability to generate an indefinitely number of cells that are of the same type. Primarily, the setup means that these cells have the capability to form other kinds of cells through the process of differentiation. In recent times, the exploration of medicine through the aspect of stem cells has led to the escalation of therapeutic ideals as regards the treatment of diseases. With the continued usage of technological models in the world, coupled with the rise of persistent ailments, the future of stem cells paints a more involved picture. Moreover, with a rapid progression as regards the adult stem cells, the future for stem cells appears more active and intense within the medical field and therapeutic cloning. Stem cells have a primitive nature that allows them to produce a specialized form of cells in a rapid manner. These cells have the potential to engender immense variations in relation to the type of tissues reproduced. In essence, stem cells should have two vital characteristics; ability for self-renewal and the need for potency.
Self-renewal in these cells offers the ability to undergo various cycles that relate to cell division while sustaining the undifferentiated situation. Potency of the stem cells relates to the capability to differentiate into diverse and specialized models; basically, the cells have to be pluripotent or totipotent. Essentially, potency of stem cells means that they can differentiate into diverse types of cells such as muscles, blood, brain, bones and skin. Furthermore, these aspects ensure that stem cells are able to function through a regulated and coordinated manner as a result of a competent feedback mechanism. Commonly, these stem cells are classified in two main groupings; embryos that have been formed during the process of blastocyst in relation to embryological development, and adult tissues. Practically, stem cells have the capacity to turn into any type of cell within the structure of the body. Besides, the stem cells encompass a potentiality for self-renewal as well as multiplying while at the same time maintaining their ability to turn into other cells. Stem cells have different sources but they all have the capacity to develop into different forms of cells. Over the years, the usage of stem cells has increased in leaps and bounds. This has led to the treatment of many ailments on the basis of using the cell stems. Furthermore, the same is being used to screen and understand the operations of toxics and other forms of drugs.
The utilization of stem cells within the medical field has raised a hue of arguments and other controversies from different sections, igniting a huge debate about its link with reproductive cloning. The controversial aspects that relate to the stem cell research bring about a huge uproar from various sectors and entities. The disagreement revolving around the utilization of stem cells connects various disciplines such as the medical field, the political realm, the ethical processes, the economic structure, the societal demands as well as the legal structures. As a result, the issue of stem cells has occasioned a debate as regards the medical and economic benefits, in addition to the societal and ethical predicaments of utilizing the stem cells in biomedicine. In some countries, the process of embryonic stem cells amounts to the breakage of laws and ethics that have been set. As a result, the application of stem cells entails a process that demands the requisites of a complex licensing. For instance, in Germany and in the US, the issue of stem cells has attracted an array of legal stipulations as well as various limitations that relate to the utilization of the stem cell whether in research or in practice. Broadly, these regulations have been set with an aim to curtail the usage of stem cells as a result of the controversy caused within the scientific, social and medical realms, hence injuring the prospective ventures of the processes involved.
The controversy that involves the usage of stem cell research entails the retrieving process from the adults. In essence, the process generates a contentious topic in relation to the usage of embryos in research. Practically, the situation conjures a complication as regards the regulations and stipulations surrounding the aspects of abortion, contraception as well as the eventual fertilization. Given that the process uses the donation of blastocysts, there arises the question of whether these cells have moral and legal rights. The complications that ensue from the usage of stem cells tend to contravene the rights that guide the aspects of humanity. Besides, even when these blastocysts are not used by the researchers, they would be destroyed. However, this outlines another question of the exact usage of these cells within the medical and scientific field in that there is still debate as to whether life starts at conception or otherwise. Moreover, some cultural beliefs do not allow the usage of embryos to conduct experiments because they believe that fetuses have the right to live just as humans.
Furthermore, the religious creed and convictions of some entities bar the usage of human life for experimental purposes, as everyone (including the embryos) has a right for life and protection. The usage of stem cell research ignites the issue of moral and legal rights. Additionally, the research draws a complicated structure in the form of consent in relation to the donation of the tissues and cells to be used. Additionally, the whole setup brings about the risk of massive rejection of tissues as well as a horde of complications towards the research due to ethics and national guidelines. Even though the adult stem cells, induced pluripotent as well as the amniotic stem cells do not give rise to an ethical debate, the embryonic stem cells kick a political storm, ethical debate, economic value as well as social deliberations. These issues bring about intertwined sceneries as regards the utilization of ideals in the research of stem cells. Moreover, the issues go beyond ethics, politics and economics as it attracts a large-scale opposition from lobby groups and conservatives, with the clamouring for legislations that ban its usage.
By: Jacqueline Mwangi