Friday, May 29, 2009

Why all the excitement about the stem-cell research?

Doctors could grow new organs to replace defective ones, and if they used the patient’s own stem cells, there would be no need to take medicines to prevent rejection. Diabetics could get a new pancreas that works instead of injecting themselves with insulin. Patients with spinal cord injuries could walk again.

So why the controversy?

Arguments about the ethics of stem cell research arise from questions about the source of the stem cells. Although “adult” stem cells can be obtained from an adult person, who can give informed consent for the procedure and who will (most likely) not be harmed by the procedure, embryonic stem cells require the destruction of an embryo. Those who believe an embryo is a human life entitled to the same protections as a child or adult argue that this amounts to murder and believe that it is unethical to murder an embryo to help treat disease in an adult.

Opponents of embryonic stem cell research believe that adult stem cells provide appropriate material for study and should be the sole focus of stem cell research.

Do they have a valid point? Maybe, but maybe not. So-called “adult stem cells” are not as primitive as embryonic stem cells. They already have some characteristics of the organ from which they are derived (liver, kidney, bone marrow…). So to make them turn into a different tissue is more complicated and more difficult. These “adult stem cells” have to first lose the characteristics of the tissue they came from and then gain the characteristics of the tissue they are being turned into. So far, doctors have been unable to accomplish this task on a large scale. Embryonic stem cells, because they are the most primitive stem cells available, should be easier to turn into the tissue of choice.

Muslim scholars have actually discussed this issue in depth, if you are interested in what they have to say about the matter, u may visit this link...