During the initial phase of this trial, safety of the treatment will be assessed, before moving on to the potential discovery of a variety of therapeutic benefits. Prior benefits have already been revealed among rats who regained their ability to control their hind legs as a result of stem cell injections.
To begin with, what are embryonic stem cells?
These stem cells come from embryos that are four to five days old. At this stage, an embryo is called a blastocyst and has about 150 cells. These are pluripotent (ploo-RIP-uh-tunt) stem cells, meaning they can divide into more stem cells or they can specialize and become any type of body cell. Because of this versatility, embryonic stem cells have the highest potential for use to regenerate or repair diseased tissue and organs in people.
Clearly, “anti-abortion groups have opposed the trial, and the Society for the Unborn Child even called the proposal ‘sick’. A spokesperson for the organization claimed that, “It involves cannibalising an unborn child”.
Many might claim that destroying human life in hopes of saving human life is unethical; however the benefits well outweigh the costs. For instance, stem cell research could potentially assist in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes (Type 1), birth defects, replacement or repair of damaged organs, and reduce risk of transplantation. Moreover, even if diseases are not cured, this research could lead to a more improved quality of life for many people. "I would absolutely love to see a quadriplegic regain use of their thumb," said UC Irvine neuroscientist Hans Keirstead.
Although controversial, would it not be reasonable to admit that we should work toward sustaining healthy lives with stem cell research as long as abortion remains legal?
Stem cell therapy to be tested on spinal cord injuries
New Stroke Research Trial Stirs More Controversy Over Stem Cells
Stem cells: What they are and what they do
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