What is all the fuss about?Stem Cell Research

When Dolly the Sheep was born in 1997, the potential for both reproductive and ‘therapeutic’ cloning (in the form of stem cell therapy) suddenly became a reality. For many this represented yet another example of scientists being allowed to play God; and the start of a new world of clones being used as replacement parts, to create armies of factory, mining or military personnel or even to achieve virtual immortality. To others this was the start of a medical revolution where embryonic stem cells harvested from clones in would enable us to cure diseases such as Parkinson’s, learn more about the causes of various cancers and even to be able to grow replacement organs for use in transplants. So what is the reality of stem cell therapy and research as it stands today and why does it cause such controversy? Let’s explore this by considering:
  • Some of the current and potential applications of stem cell research.
  • The legislation surrounding the field as it stands today.
  • Prominent arguments for and against the technology’s use.
By the end of this tutorial you will be able to:
  • understand why there is controversy surrounding stem cell research
  • assess the likely impact of stem cell research on future therapeutic development
  • pinpoint the current UK legislation which deals with stem cell research
  • appreciate and outline some of the arguments expressed in favour of stem cell research.
  • appreciate and outline some of the arguments expressed against stem cell research.