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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 1018-6441

Abstract

RHEEDER, A.L.. Stem cell research and therapy: An overview of its feasibility with accompanying ethical implications. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2008, vol.42, n.3, pp. 469-498. ISSN 1018-6441.

Stem cell research is a breathtaking technology where man's own cells are used to effect a cure for certain ailments. Stem cells are specially developed cells that contain the ability to develop into any cell in the body and to cure or replace defective cells. Researchers isolated stem cells from the human (and animal) embryo, foetus, umbilical cord, and adult body and developed them to stem cell lines for therapy. Astonishing results have already been shown. In some instances researchers achieved full cure or at least huge improvement in animals (and in a few instances with human beings) with diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases and auto-immune diseases. The broken spinal marrow ofrats has also been repaired through this technique. The aim of this article is to give an overview of the technical feasibility and advancement of this field of research. It will become apparent from these facts that there are a large number of general and technical problems with the accompanying ethical implications, that will have to be resolved before this therapy can be applied. Problems that have been identified include the necessary destruction of the human embryo, the consideration of therapeutic cloning, the placing of human embryonic cells in embryos of primates such as apes and a series of technical problems in the development of stem cell technology.

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