Stem Cells Therapy and Research. Benefits and Ethical Challenges

By Grad, Nicolae-Ovidiu; Pop, Ionel-Ciprian et al. | Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Stem Cells Therapy and Research. Benefits and Ethical Challenges


Grad, Nicolae-Ovidiu, Pop, Ionel-Ciprian, Mironiuc, Ion-Aurel, Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies


Abstract: The research on stem cell-based therapies has greatly expanded in recent years. Our text attempts to seek those religious and ethical challenges that stem cell therapy and research bring into debate. Our thesis is that bioethics can defend its principle without a religious background. We will develop our argumentation on three major points: firstly, a comparison between secular ethics and religious views will clarify why stem cell therapy and research are important from a scientific point of view, addressing the very center of the human being; in our view, being based on secular society, bioethics can answer the challenges of stem cell therapy and research; secondly, following Hans Jonas' perspective on experimenting on humans, we seek to understand the philosophical guidance that sciences dealing with stem cell need; thirdly, we will map the ethical guidelines for clinical translational research that have been adopted by the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Key Words: stem cell research, stem cell therapy, bioethics, human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, regenerative medicine, religious challenges, ethical challenges

Recently, stem cell research and therapy have significantly expanded1. As a result, stem cells-based therapy has become an option for various medical conditions. Yet, from an ethical perspective, even if the controversy about the source of human embryonic stem cells has diminished along with the development of alternative techniques of obtaining stem cells, the new developments in stem cell research cannot avoid ethical controversy, on the whole, and scientists are confronted with a different set of ethical concerns. Stem cell-based therapies have become the clinical standard of cure for some conditions such as hematopoietic stem cell transplants for leukemia.

Several contemporary authors claim that bioethics cannot defend its principles without a religious background. This attitude is obvious even in highly specialized and strictly regulated fields, such as stem cell therapies and research. However, bioethical principles can equally be based on philosophical grounds, as proved by the pioneering example of Hans Jonas' writings on experimentation with human subjects. An even more telling example is that of the ethical guidelines adopted by the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Between Secular Ethics and Religion

By definition, "a stem cell is an unspecialized cell that can both selfrenew (reproduce itself) and differentiate into functional phenotypes. Stem cells can originate from embryonic, fetal, or adult tissue and are broadly categorized accordingly"2. Thus, "regenerative medicine is an emerging branch of medicine whose goal is to restore organ and/or tissue function using a biological approach"3. In order to avoid the ethical dilemmas raised by human embryonic stem cells (hES), alternative sources of stem cells are used. There is an increased support on behalf of religious groups towards the adult stem cell research in order to reduce the utilization of human embryonic stem cells. These alternative sources have initiated the reaction of scientists because of the different properties of the embryonic stem cells vis-à-vis the adult stem cells, the therapeutic potential of the former being higher4. Therefore, our approach, on the one hand, will have in mind this strict definition when approaching stem cell research and therapy and, on the other hand, our paper will focus on the religious and ethical challenges that stem cell therapy and research call into play.

In an introductory article, King-Tak IP stipulates that regenerative medicine formulates a Promethean promise, i.e. "being able to redesign human biological nature in terms of the goals and concerns of humans"5, while H. Tristram Engelhardt equally considers that "regenerative medicine promises to ameliorate, if not cure, a wide range of human injuries, disabilities, and diseases". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stem Cells Therapy and Research. Benefits and Ethical Challenges
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.