Practical and Ethical Issues Limiting the Clinical Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells - Abstract
Stem cell research may revolutionise our understanding of how we develop and function and offer potential treatments for debilitating diseases including Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and Huntington’s disease. However, Human Embryonic Stem Cell (HESC) research has been surrounded by both ethical and political controversy. The isolation of these pluripotent stem cells has caused arguments regarding the beginning of human personhood. Along with these ethical issues, several practical issues arise in HESC research including immunogenicity issues after transplantation. Legal restrictions in various countries have also hindered the progress of HESC research, creating a difficult environment for advancement in the field. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSCs) have offered a potential replacement to HESC research by avoiding the ethical and practical issues associated with HESC. However more research and trials are required to gain a better understanding of their therapeutic mechanism of action and to assess the potential risks and side effects associated with both HESC and IPSC transplants.