Stem Cell Research: Science, Ethics and the Popular Media

Few advances in the history of science and technology have generated as much ethical controversy and captured as much public attention as research on human stem cells. This paper distinguishes two parallel research programs involving stems cells: embryonic and adult stem cell research programs, then surveys the ethical arguments advanced for and against human embryonic stem cell research. The popular media has tended to exaggerate the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cell therapies are already available for different kinds of cancer and a host of autoimmune diseases such us lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, recent research has shown that human adult stem cells have more plasticity than previously thought. Taking this into consideration, and using the principle of subsidiarity which states that if the same results can be obtained by two types of research, one should undertake the research that is least offensive or problematic, I argue that a moratorium on human embryonic stem cell research should be considered. In the meantime, I suggest that research on human adult stem cells and both animal embryonic and animal adult stem cells should continue
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