Among these, the use of embryonic stem cells has been the most debated and opposed as scientists maintain that of the many potential sources embryonic stem cells have a greater degree of pluripotency and hence could be a good source of a variety of cell types, while at the same time religious groups have vehemently opposed the use of embryos for research (Stem Cell Information, 2011). While a large community of the medical and scientific fraternity has acknowledged its importance and wide implications in treatment, religious groups seem to have a varied status with regard to stem cell research. However, considering the enormous benefits that humans stand to gain from the use of stem cells due to its inherent ability to liberate humans from mortal sufferings stem cell research needs to be avidly supported by the public and governments. Stem cells constitute a class of cells which are unspecialized and have the ability to divide infinitely and differentiate into many types of body cells. This totipotent ability is attributed to their inherent nature of dividing into various types of cells even after long periods of inactivity. This nature of stem cells enables it to serve as a repair system within the body and continuously replenish the cells within the body. When the stem cells remain in their unspecialized state they cannot perform any specific cells functions. However, when these cells are induced under specific experimental and physical conditions they are capable of differentiating into specific cells such as a heart cell, blood cell or nerve cell which form the specific tissues or organs. Stem cells are primarily obtained from two sources namely the embryos and the non-embryonic somatic stem cells (Stem Cell Information, 2011). The isolation of human embryonic stem cells by Dr. James A. Thomson and its potential use in treating various diseases marked the beginning of the widely debated issue about stem cell research.
Stem Cell Policies Around the World