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Problems With Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

1565 words - 7 pages

Recently in the scientific world, the field of embryonic stem cell research has become a popular topic and has been the subject for many heated debates. Experts in the field of stem cell research promise that this will be the future of medicine; that stem cells will be the cure to all the debilitating diseases and afflictions of today, such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer and nerve damage. The truth about embryonic stem cell research is that it is not as hopeful and as revolutionary as it seems. Many problems that will negate the use of stem cells will and have already begun to arise, especially in areas concerning health risks to the patient, opportunity costs and human rights ...view middle of the document...

With this approach come major problems such as the formation of tumours, which is caused by the distinguishing trait of stem cells. Because stem cells are able to divide for an unlimited amount of time, it has been found that the cells will not know when to stop dividing and they will continue to divide even after being transplanted into the patient (Herold 48). This form of treatment is counterproductive, as uncontrollable cell division will produce tumours and potentially cause cancer, which is one of the ailments that stem cell research promises to cure.
Another health problem that treatment with embryonic stem cells can cause is tissue rejection. As is the case with current organ transplantation procedures, embryonic stem cells are harvested from many people all who possess a unique set of genes; therefore, the stem cells are not genetically matched for each patient (Herold 48-49). The difference in genetics causes the body to reject the tissue and the immune system begins to attack the transplanted tissue like it would a virus or bacteria in an attempt to remove the perceived threat. To avoid the implanted tissues being rejected by the body, doctors must prescribe immune suppression drugs that must be taken for the remainder of the patient’s life, even with these drugs the tissue may still be rejected and will cease functioning (Bhimji).
A suggested solution to the problem of tissue rejection in embryonic stem cell transplant patients is therapeutic cloning. The procedure to therapeutically cloning a stem cell involves removing the nucleus of an embryonic stem cell, after this step the cell will no longer have any genetic information. Then the cell is fused with a non-embryonic cell from the patient. Afterwards, when the cells are induced to divide it produces a line of cells that are suitable for transplant. Since these cells have the same DNA as the patient there is no chance for rejection (Herold 49).
While this may be a solution to the problem of stem cell rejection, it causes a whole new range of problems and obstacles. As therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning only differ in the final use of the embryo it is a very real possibility that therapeutic cloning could be abused to produce reproductive cloning, which most experts agree should be avoided at all costs. To avoid reproductive cloning extremely strict rules would have to be established, and even then there would be no guarantee that therapeutic cloning would not be taken advantage of in other parts of the world (Antoniou 398).
Along with the risks that are associated with therapeutic cloning there is a large opportunity cost associated with it as well. Cloning is a very ineffective process that involves the use of, and the waste of many eggs. This makes the process of therapeutic cloning very time consuming, and costs of therapeutic cloning very high. Considering the risks and complications of embryonic stem cells these resources could be spent elsewhere on other...

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