Therapeutic Cloning and stem cell Therapy in relation to the South Korean Breakthrough of February 2004
Politicians, philosophers, lawyers and scientists have been arguing about it for years, but most recent headlines have reignited the simmering debate about therapeutic cloning. Having sent ripples through the scientific and political communities, this issue presents at once radical advantages to medical evolution, and highly controversial moral issues. It seems that the new prospect – using cloned human embryos for medical therapy – will take some time before breaking political and moral barriers to become an accessible reality.
What are stem cells? Uses?
The exclusive particularity of stem cells, is the aspect attracting scientists to put them to many uses for sufferers. Stem cells are cells from which all other tissue types spring. They are present in an embryo only days after conception, and their nature predisposes them as capable of developing into cell types that basically make up the body. Stem cells could then be grown into custom-made and perfectly adjusted organ tissue transplants, offering scientists the best hope for curing diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and spinal cord injuries.
How is it done?
The process involved to reach this point is rather complex, and its final step involves the destruction of the egg. Human ovums are obtained by donation or abortion; DNA is inserted from other cells; the eggs are grown into embryos; and finally, the stem cells are extracted from the embryo, destroying it in the process. The stem cells would then be spurred to become specialised cells, and transplanted into the donor to replace faulty tissue.
... of the blastocyst, or embryo, consists of stem cells that will grow to be placental tissue and membrane. The inner cell mass, however, will grow ... and most obvious alternative would be to take stem cells from already grown adult stem cells. However, scientists around the world soon discovered that there ...
Actuality in the news
But what is in the news that has made stem cells such a focal point in the last couple of days? Why are we revisiting the issue?
South Korean scientists, led by veterinary professor Hwang Woo-suk, have created 30 human embryos through cloning, and have succeeded in extracting human stem cells for the first time in history, as reported in newspapers all over the world […]. As to be expected, the debate is recharged.
While on the one hand sufferers and scientists are pushing for favourable legislation for further research, religious groups and certain senators are opposed to the final stage of stem cell cultivation – the destruction of the embryo. The vice-president of the Vatican’s Political Academy for Life, Monsignor Elio Sgrecia, said “You can’t kill human life in the hopes of finding medicines to save other lives. “[Stem-cell extrusion] treats the youngest of humans as mere property,” as reasoned US Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican. Patrick Sabatier, special report writer for the Libération newspaper, said that the embryo is technically considered a human being as soon as the ovum divides into more than one cell. Others argue that an embryo cannot truly be considered a member of the human race, as Theodore Dalrymple of the Daily Telegraph states. The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation affirmed “We don’t care where they find a cure for this disease”. Dalrymple also claimed “If stem-cell research can do it, I welcome it.”
Then there remains the recently-increased fear among anti-abortion groups that women may one day be used to “farm” donor eggs. The stem cell issue has never looked so multi-faceted.
... the researchers today get the stem cells? Originally, stem cells derived from human embryos came from frozen embryos created at in-vitro fertilization clinics ... specifically to produce embryos for stem cell harvesting. The use of embryo stem cells has been the topic of much debate in our ... country over the last few years. Some people feel that as soon as an egg is fertilized, a life ...
What’s new in the debate?
But with all this talk about curing the fatally sick, reliable clinical applications are yet years away, said The Guardian on the 13th of this month. Human Genetics Alert warned that researchers had given a big boost to those who want to make cloned babies, and it is in this fear that the Bush administration insists on banning all human cloning. On the practical side, it is not yet understood why one type of cell becomes heart tissue, and another liver. It seems therapeutic cloning is not of practical use at this point.
Conclusion: Pro – Cons – Not yet
Amidst the benefits and controversies of stem cell therapy, the breakthrough in South Korea has rekindled the long-standing debate about stem cells, but not yet brought the future to our hospitals.