Stem cells have stirred up a lot of fierce debate, but many people still only have a vague understanding of the topic.
The political and public opinion on stem cells as shifted a lot over the years. As a subject you may vote on, it pays to know what you’re talking about.
That’s why we’re taking a look at the subject of stem cell research and the pros and cons associated with it.
What is Stem Cell Research?
Stem cells are the cells of the body that can differentiate into specialized cells as they grow. Adult stem cells can’t do much more than repair and replace, but embryonic stem cells can differentiate into any specialized cell.
In medicine, these stem cells unlock new treatment opportunities. With the application of external stem cells, a body can repair damage that would otherwise be irreversible.
Pros and Cons of Stem Cells
Stem cells aren’t without their controversy. Let’s take a quick look at some commonly-cited pros and cons.
Pro: Radical New Treatments
Stem cells hold the key to radical new treatments, opening up a whole new frontier of medicine. They can allow us to tackle many diseases we still don’t have the answer for, including diseases that vast numbers of us can expect to face in our lifetimes.
Stem cells could ease the suffering of thousands of people, in those with such conditions as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or arthritis — you can read more about it here. They could also be one of the elusive set of cures for cancer in its various forms.
Pro: Research Potential
When we examine stem cells, we examine the fundamental building blocks of a person. That means that growing these stem cells in lab conditions and studying them could open up vast new areas of knowledge for scientists.
In turn, this could lead to a dramatic upswing in the quality of life for the human race as a whole — much like other revolutionary medical technologies before it.
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what we can learn from stem cells, and only further research will teach us more.
Con: Ethical Considerations
Stem cell research has come under fire from some quarters for its perceived unethical nature.
To process for extracting stem cells from a human embryo will destroy the embryo. These lab-grown embryos are never more than days old and aren’t implanted in a uterus, but they can still raise questions about the sanctity of human life and where we draw the line.
Con: The Long Term
As with any new medical procedures, we know very little about the long-term viability of stem cell treatments.
Scientists can only form these long-term pictures by drawing on data. As stem cells are a radical new technology, we don’t yet have an idea of how they perform in the long-term. There could be major long-term risks associated with using medical stem cells.
Stem Cell Research and the Pros and Cons Explained
We’ve only scratched the surface of stem cell research and the pros and cons associated with it, but this should give you a basic understanding of the subject. We encourage you to find out more so you can form a complete picture.
Don’t forget to check out our blog for more health-related topics.