Stem Cells - Ethics Slideshow - Biotechnology


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For the Biotechnology class of period 5 at El Molino High School.

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Stem Cells - Ethics Slideshow - Biotechnology

  1. 1. Stem Cell Research: How ethical is the use of stem cells for science? By (Sam) Harsimranjit Kang
  2. 2. What are Stem Cells? Stem cells are undifferentiated cells. They have the potential to become specialized as long as the human or animal is alive. As they undergo mitosis they can remain as stem cells or become specialized cells to replace old/dead cells, or to aid in regrowth (“Stem Cells”). They can be induced (sometimes in special conditions) to become tissue or organ-specific cells to aid with renewing/repairing tissue and organs (“Stem Cells”). Have been already greatly used for medication, therapeutic purposes, and help with (understanding) diseases and disorders.
  3. 3. What are the Problems? The way stem cells have been obtained since 1998 causes controversy. Because the research had only shown that embryotic stem cells are useful in being specialized (because when embryos grow the stem cells are undergoing mitosis to be specific cells for specific functions), scientists obtained their stem cells for any laboratory work from human embryos and then reproduced them in the lab (“Stem Cells”). The method of obtaining the human embryonic stem cells, arguably destroys the embryo and prevents it from becoming a “full” human being.
  4. 4. What are the Problems? (cont.) Continuing from the previous slide, humans are forced to make a huge decision that is not only present in stem cell research, but abortions as well: When is an embryo considered a human and when does it gain the rights and respect as a human being? These questions veer off to even more ethical concerns. Is conception the start of a human? Is the destruction of the embryo justified for the possibility of saving lives (“The Stem Cell”)?
  5. 5. What are the Problems? (cont.) A contradiction to the claim that embryos are destroyed when they are used for stem cells is that the embryo has the potential to continue its growth in the lab (“The Stem Cell”). This means theoretically that human cloning could be possible in the laboratory. Is that ethical? Many governments have already made legislation that says NO (“The Stem Cell”).
  6. 6. Potential human being embryo or stem cells? (“Baby and stem cells”).
  7. 7. Solutions Possible solutions to solving the ethics debate over stem cell research are: Completely outlaw the use of human embryonic stem cells (hES) and use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) instead. Completely stop all forms of stem cell research. Allow scientists to research at their own discretion. Decree that human life starts are conception. OR set a specific phase in embryonic growth as what is considered a human, and when and what rights are given. Limited use of hES with a preference to iPS.
  8. 8. Completely Outlaw hES and use iPS Instead Pros: Stem cell research would not be under as much scrutiny if it didn’t destroy any future human beings. Embryos wouldn’t be destroyed or tempered with for that matter. Pro-life people would not have to worry that human beings are being destroyed for science.
  9. 9. Completely Outlaw hES and use iPS Instead Cons: Some research shows that induced pluripotent stem cells are fewer in number because they must be genetically modified before being able to have similar properties to that of human embryonic stem cells and thus being able to be used to carry out further research. Research on how humans develop and how undifferentiated cells become specialized, a key event in the growth of humans, becomes harder (“What Are”).
  10. 10. Stop Stem Cell Research Pros: There is no need to worry of the ethics of this research because it simply does not exist. Ethical issues would be of a less concern in this field of science. No problem with the “destruction” of embryos – it’s not happening! No worry that cloning is possible as a result of stem cell reproduction. Money would be saved by the government and universities and businesses as this field would be profit/research-less.
  11. 11. Stop Stem Cell Research Cons: Research is stopped; this means that scientists can’t learn about human development in its early stages, or what’s going on in the body with certain diseases and disorders and how to prevent or cure them. Possible life-changing discoveries are hindered and prevented. Many people would lose their jobs and their financial security. Science would have a lower reputation because of its limits against social ethics and how it would have completely lost against it.
  12. 12. Allow Scientists to Research at Their Own Discretion Pros: Scientists can easily determine which stem cells (iES or hES) are more beneficial to the research. Scientists can freely do research without financial or legal worries from concerned individuals. Perhaps there is unbiased research and facts when there are no worries about possible actions that can be taken against scientists for their scientific actions.
  13. 13. Allow Scientists to Research at Their Own Discretion Cons: Goes totally against the concepts of ethics and bioethics and why science can be controversial and needs to be to ensure that scientific practices don’t oppose social values too greatly! Scientists could interpret their freedom as permission to clone human beings, which is banned in many countries.
  14. 14. Decree an Accepted Social Statement Before pros of this are discussed, this solution is many-faced because the social statements could be something like “Human life starts at conception” or “humans are a 14-day-old embryo”. The pros and cons discussed will not be pertaining to any certain statement, just in general, if the idea were to be implemented.
  15. 15. Decree an Accepted Social Statement Pros: A clear cut statement is known and scientists can adjust (or maybe discontinue) their research. Society and government doesn’t have to clash over the accepted statement since it’s already defined. This would help with the debate on abortion and whether it should be allowed or not.
  16. 16. Decree an Accepted Social Statement Cons: Even if scientists have a clear statement to base their ethical dilemmas on, neither would society as a whole agree on them nor would scientists, so the problem would continue. The ethical arguments are important because they shape all the different societies of the world and make scientists and humans question their actions.
  17. 17. Preferring iPS but limited hES Pros: Both variances of stem cells would be used for research, allowing both potentials to be unlocked, maybe even seeing which is more beneficial. Although limited, the practice of using hES is allowed, so scientists have some flexibility with expanding their research. Best of both worlds kind of, since it’s a compromise.
  18. 18. Preferring iPS but limited hES Cons: Embryos are still being harmed and “killed”. Thus there is still concern over how useful human embryonic stem cells are and whether “killing” a “human being” is justified by research that has not had huge amounts of scientific breakthrough.
  19. 19. hES vs iPS (“HES”).
  20. 20. My Opinion I believe that the order of solutions, from best to worst is: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Preferring iPS but with limited usage of hES. Completely outlaw hES, but allow iPS. Leave it at scientists’ discretion. Decree an accepted social statement. Completely stop stem cell research.
  21. 21. My Opinion - Why I choose allowing some hES research because it allows scientists to better understand our human development and why and how our cells become specialized. This is a good compromise, and although it does allow embryonic usage, which can kill potential human beings, if done with great intention, utmost sincerity and respect, and with as less damage as possible, it is fine. Induced pluripotent cells from adults have already aided to production of new medicines for example. So the potential for great discoveries in this field is too important to disregard.
  22. 22. My Opinion – Why (cont.) Although not as preferable, stem cell research is continued and although not all of scientists’ questions will be answered, we will be able to grow our knowledge of stem cell use. Leaving it for scientists to decide is scary as scientists could abuse their right, but then again stem cell research continues, and maybe even booms since embryo usage isn’t necessarily factored in. However this does affect many embryos that have the potential to become human beings and so it would be a little savage if gotten out of control.
  23. 23. My Opinion – Why (cont.) I don’t really like this solution because it’s highly improbable. It’s always been hard for society to come to an agreement where all sides are happy. Besides, whatever decision is made regarding whether or not embryos are humans, when, and what their rights are, there is still problems in ethics and hypothetically things could get out of control. However this solution is not my last, because I don’t feel like stopping stem cell research would be wise.
  24. 24. My Opinion – Why (cont.) As mentioned in the last slide, stopping stem cell research would be unwise because all the possible scientific achievements that could change human beings’ lives for good would be prevented. There would be no chance of improving our lives.
  25. 25. My Stance I feel that stem cell usage is too much of a benefit to disregard. It truly has huge potential in being able to solve the numerous problems that humans face today (within their bodies) and explain how as humans we have come to develop, even if it’s part of the huge developmental history. Personally I would do more research and possibly even join the stem cell researchers as my career and focus on making this research more ethical, or at least more efficient with obtaining more potential from embryos and using as little embryos as possible.
  26. 26. Works Cited (1) Baby and stem cells. Digital image. The Stem Cell Debate: Is It Over? The University of Utah, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. < sues/>. (2) "Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Dilemma." EuroStemCell. EuroStemCell, 23 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <>. (3) HES vs iPS stem cell. Digital image. Stem Cell Research. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <>.
  27. 27. Works Cited (cont.) (4) "Stem Cell Basics: Introduction." Stem Cell Basics: Introduction [Stem Cell Information]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 20 Apr. 2002. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <>. (5) "The Stem Cell Debate: Is It Over?" The Stem Cell Debate: Is It Over? The University of Utah, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. < >. (6) "What Are the Potential Uses of Human Stem Cells and the Obstacles That Must Be Overcome before These Potential Uses Will Be Realized?" Stem Cell Basics. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <>.