On Stem Cells

Biology or the science of the living as a science has witnessed a tremendous growth in the past 50 years. Ever since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA, discoveries in the field of life science have been highly proliferating.These discoveries were culminated by the deciphering of the human genome by Craig Venter and the Celera team.

One has to make a distinction between science and technology, while science is the pursuit of truth technology is the application of scientific findings. As such laser discovery is science while its applications in surgery, measurement etc is technology.This distinction is important because science is not evil, what could be evil is the technology.

E=MC2 was science but the atomic bomb was a technological application and it is an evil technology.

The distinction is important because mixing up is intentionally happening and it is hindering the scientific research in an area that holds, up till now, a great promise for mankind; stem cell therapy.

According to several scientific writings human embryonic stem (ES) cells can give rise to almost all of the body’s different cell types. They could eventually provide patients with replacement tissues.

This approach is still highly controversial Stem cells and this controversy over stem cell research exists worldwide, it arises from the fact that stem cells come mainly from early human embryos. Despite the fact that stem cells present a hope of curing incurable diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer it still raises disagreement on the question of the status of embryos; individuals or cells. Presently the natural law defines the destiny of embryos as potential humans. However a question poses itself is it more dignified for embryos (doomed or surplus embryos) to die than be used for cure? The debate in Germany is considering a compromise; i.e. ethical balance: using doomed embryos or prevent stem cell research.

The argument of those against embryonic stem cells is protecting life and dignity, even for doomed or surplus embryos; however those for such research debates that surplus embryos represent hope for curing incurable diseases. The resistance movement is hiding behind religious morals and define each embryo as a potential human being, it is very strange that while the church does not recognize miscarriage fetus as human being and accordingly does not give them a funeral it stands against stem cell research. It is  claiming that if put in the right environment the doomed embryos will eventually become humans, such hypothesis has not been proven scientifically as there is a percentage of ova normally fertilized that do not develop beyond an embryo and are lost.

What is the source of surplus embryos? Surplus embryos are a byproduct of in vitro fertilization, or what is more commonly known as test tube children, to ensure a high degree of success, doctors are fertilizing a number of ova using some and freezing the others for future use if the proceedings fail. These embryos are kept freezing, and after a while become surplus or doomed embryos.

It has to be clear that:  Science is not the problem, and science alone cannot provide solutions” additionally “Technology has been used to enhance human well fair and destroy human lives”.Without further investigations and researches, the real potential could not be ascertained. Once this is confirmed the technological application , if any, has to be highly and rigorously regulated to prevent any abuse.  In nature magazine in 2003 Erika Check stated that the process is not without scientific roadblocks; one problem is that scientists don’t yet know how to control the cells’ transformations into other types. Another is that the cells cannot be grown without help from mouse cells, which means that they could be contaminated with mouse proteins.

Finally one last question is left unanswered how much cells or how many embryos are needed to cure one patient. 


5 Responses to “On Stem Cells”

  1. 1 Marwa Rakha April 26, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Reading your post reminded me of an incident that took place when I was a little girl; I was living with my granny and her neigbour had a stillbirth twins. The lady was sad but she decided to offer her dead twins to El Kasr El 3eini for research purposes. That same lady also wrote in her will the she wants to donate her organs to patients on the waiting list for organ transplant.

    Everyone was against her and they told her that it is “haram” and that religion forbids her to do that on the grounds that her body does not belong to her; it belongs to God. I was crying all the time because of the dead babies and eventually my granny sent me home before I had a nervous breakdown. I never knew what happened to the lady and her babies.

    I think there will always be a conflict between science and religion in that aspect.

  2. 2 rafiknakhla April 26, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    This is a sad story however through people like this lady that other lives can be saved.
    One has to bear in mind that scientific discoveries have helped humanity to extend the average age and improve the quality of life.
    The problem happens when science and religion gets mixed together, trying to measure science on religious ground or measure religion on scientific ground, while science is variable religion is absolute and accordingly cannot be mixed. Religion will definitly guide ethical aspects of technology. However the debate of organ transplant that is depriving sick patients of their chances to improve their lives or reacquire vision through corneal transplant.
    Scientific research is behind what we are living today, it is the discovery of DNA that has made biothechnology possible , which helped to produce human insulin and other products.

  3. 3 Caroline Kamel April 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I like the new discovery. It offers to the whole world better life
    Iam always looking forward to know the new discovery especially in the field of medicine.
    I think that if there is someone needs an organ transplantation even he rejects the idea he will do it. Especially if this one is you, ur son or daughter (Necessity has no law). People in the problem behave differently.
    Why not to give these people better quality of life even if this life is short but happy . “Put your trust in God , but keep your powder dry”
    put in your mind that God is always doing the best for everyone.

  4. 4 rafiknakhla April 29, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Caroline
    Science will always seek the truth, and the discoveries of science have made our lives better. You are right people will behave differently if they face the sad situations. Stem cells hold huge promises but it should be inetnsively studied to establish the validity of this new approach. the only way is to work with surplus or doomed embryos without any inhibition or barrier. Sience is not associated with economic results, it is technology that yields financial outcome and because of that technology or the application of scientifc discoveries should be regulated

  5. 5 ]Dr. Ayman Makkawy May 6, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    للأسف مازلنا نتلكأ في مصر لإصدار التشريع المتكامل الذي يبيح نقل الأعضاء وينظمه ، بالرغم أن هنا في السعوديه – وهي أكثر تشددا في كثير من النواحي الشرعية – قد أباحت النقل بين الأحياء ومن الأموات للأحياء ، ولاأعتقد أن هذا ضد الدين بأي حال من الأحوال ، ليس لأن علماء السعوديه أفتوا به ، ولكن لأنه يتفق مع المنطق والحكمه الألهيه للخلق ، فلقد خلقنا الله لعبادته وإعمار الأرض والسعي فيها ، وإذا أطال نقل العضو للمريض عمره ولو يوما واحدا ليبقى في الحياه ويساهم في إعمار الأرض أو يصبح مبصرا مثلا بعد العمى سنوات طوال فنعم بها وأكرم من إضافة لبني الأنسان العاملين والساعين في هذه الدنيا .
    حتى لو أضفى بقاء هذا المريض على قيد الحياه سعادة لزوجه أو أم أو أبناء له ، لكفى هذا من غرض نبيل لايمكن أن يقف الدين أمامه أبدا أو يمنعه .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 26,732 hits
April 2007
    May »

%d bloggers like this: