In all of my past blog posts, I have discussed stem cell research and even the controversy surrounding it, but today I will be discussing several myths and misconceptions that society has involving stem cell research. Many times these myths and misconceptions arise because opposition groups are trying to persuade supporters that the practice is unethical.
One of the many misconceptions of stem cell research is that funded research is not performed ethically. California’s Stem Cell Agency is one of the institutes that are performing stem cell research that is government funded. The Stem Cell Agency takes ethical concerns in to consideration when performing research on stem cells, and adopts research standards similar to the National Institute of Health’s stem cell research program. The funded researchers at the agency must comply with regulations developed in accordance to national and international research standards for stem cell research. These regulations were actually one of the first sets of regulations involving stem cell research and are in accordance with the guidelines from the International Society for Stem Cell Research.
Another one of the major misconceptions surrounding stem cell research is where the embryos are coming from that are used in embryonic stem cell research . Currently, the embryos being used in the research are four to five day old embryos left over from in vitro fertilization procedures. The leftover embryos that are left over after an in vitro fertilization procedure are stored in the clinic’s freezer that is designed to store the embryos. If the embryos are not donated to embryonic stem cell research, the embryos are usually destroyed.
Some embryos used in stem cell research are also from embryos that are not chosen for in vitro fertilization procedures because the embryos will have genetic defects such as cystic fibrosis or Tay Sachs disease. These genetic defects are discovered during routine genetic testing performed before the in vitro fertilization process. If the embryos were not donated to embryonic stem cell research, they would have been discarded and destroyed.
There is also an extensive consent program that is utilized to ensure that people who donate leftover embryos to the research process are fully aware of what embryonic stem cell research involves. Also under state, national, and international regulations, human embryonic stem cell lines cannot be created without the full consent of the donor.
The main myth with embryonic stem cell research is that the only way to conduct stem cell research is to destroy the embryo. There is actually a process that an embryonic stem cell research can use that preserves the embryo and does not destroy it. This method creates the stem cell lines by removing only one cell from the embryo and that one cell is used to create the cell line. The process of only removing one cell from the embryo is the same procedure utilized for embryonic genetic testing that is done in the normal in vitro fertilization process.
The final myth that I am going to disprove in this post is that stem cell research will eventually lead to a cloning process. This is impossible since every regulatory and advising programs involving stem cell research explicitly ban the use of stem cells for reproductive cloning. The National Academy of Sciences and the International Society for Stem Cell Research has even issued guidelines banning the cloning technique.
It is very important to disprove the myths and misconceptions surrounding stem cell research especially since it is a highly debated topic in today’s society. If the wrong information is received by the government, the desperately needed funding for stem cell research can be eliminated.