Stem Cell Ethical and Policy Conversation


Stem cell research is nothing new, but the vast majority of studies focused mainly on animals rather than human subjects. Although there are some really interesting studies that used stem cells in various extents; it would be much interesting if the said results would translate to human clinical trials.

The use of stem cells for therapy is not without its shortcomings and controversies. One huge controversy is the use of human embryonic stem cells- which are stem cells that are harvested from blastocysts or those embryos that are still within 5 days old.

hESCs were used before, mainly due to its characteristic of being able to change into whatever cell type in the body. However, because of its origins, the use of it in laboratory and clinical trials is not permitted.

So, what did the scientists do? Well, they made use of adult stem cells instead, which are the stem cells that are derived from the person’s own body. It can either be harvested from the person’s bone marrow or from their fat tissue located in the belly.

To know where stem cell research is currently, we have to know the scientific integrity of the studies, the resource allocation of these cells as it relates to healthcare, and the responsibilities of those who are going to administer the treatments.

Scientific Integrity

Stem cells are believed to change into whatever type of cell there is in the body. For instance, it can purportedly change into muscle cells, which can help people who’ve had myocardial infarction repair their heart muscles and return the organ into its normal-functioning self.

However, although scientists have theorized this to be the case, that really didn’t translate into practice. In other words, little is known on the actual benefits of stem cells as it relates to stem cell treatments.

For example, if stem cells were derived from another source, one huge stumbling block would be rejection from the host’s body. The body is amazing in that it acts on the premise that if something is not from the body of origin itself, it will be attacked and eliminated.

So, the challenge is on the researchers to find a way to transplant stem cells and make it so that the patient’s body will not reject it.

Allocation of Limited Resources

The National Institutes of Health or NIH only have a limited number of resources. Although it is willing to fund research projects, they only have a limited amount of resources.

This can be quite challenging on two fronts. First, stem cell research is quite costly in and of itself, mainly because of how many participants are required and the failure rates of these experiments or studies.

Second, if stem cells were indeed successful in clinical trials, then how expensive would stem cell treatments be? It is a possibility that it is going to be quite expensive, but as to how expensive it would get, that would be something that should be deliberated and discussed upon by the medical board.

Social Responsibilities

It is important that stem cell and its use in treatments and therapies should be publicly disclosed. What can they do? What can they treat? All of the information should be properly discussed in a forum or in a live event so that people will know exactly what it does.

Furthermore, it is important that therapies need to be approved first prior to the administration so that people can rest assured that the treatment they’re going to get is safe and effective.