Discussing bioethics and rapidly growing technological advances in science.
I was a little confused this week when I started looking at the different ways that scientists can use technology to enhance patient’s lives. Actually, I think I still am a little fuzzy on the subject and the differences between techniques. The discussion surrounding genetic enhancements is similar to the discussion about the use of stem cells. Cell therapy can be defined as a technique that infuses or transplants stem cells into patients to treat diseases or repair tissues. The key difference between gene therapy and stem cell therapy is that in gene therapy, genetic material is injected to patients while, in stem cell therapy, whole cells are injected to patients to treat diseases (Samanthi, 2017). Both bring up varying ethical issues about how this knowledge should be used and when it should be used.
The somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) that scientists used to clone Dolly the sheep stirred the entire world (Collins, 2006). People wondered how long it would be before scientists cloned people and when and if so, if those people would be spiritual human beings. The good that came from the experiment is that life-saving human organs can be cloned. Would it be ethical to clone a human for organs? It is scary to think of where this science is capable of going.
Technology is advancing faster than the ethical guidelines for it are. Karen Moxom created a mind-over-matter project decades ago to help patients regain use of their limbs (Moxon, et al., 2019). It sounded like sci-fi fiction back then and it still does to some people today. As with neurotechnology, stem cell technology is also a rapidly advancing science that can greatly improve patient’s lives. One of the most useful and least questioned techniques to harvest stem cells is from the umbilical cord. The cost of getting the stem cells and then storing them until they are needed is more than most people can afford though. Deciding right and wrong, costs, and equality concerns, and the overall benefit to humanity will help us put guidelines in place for future experiments.
Stem cell research and cloning raise the issue of clones having a living soul. I looked up the definition for personhood at dictionary.com and found it defined as; the state or fact of being a person, the state or fact of being an individual or having human characteristics and feelings. Genetics makes up our physical bodies, and environmental factors form our developed feelings. Maybe our DNA holds more than we think it does. Bioethics addresses complex issues about how vulnerable people should be treated (Pozgar, 2019). Clones would most definitely be a vulnerable population that people would want to know the answers to many questions about.
Related Articles: Ethics regarding clones
Collins, F. S. (2006). The language of God: A scientist presents evidence for belief. New York, NY: Free Press. ISBN: 9781416542742.
Moxon, Karen, Guglielmo Foffani, (Brain-Machine Interfaces beyond Neuroprosthetics, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Retrieved From, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.036
Moxon, K, Ph.D., Ignacio Saez, Ph.D., and Jochen Ditterich, Ph.D., (2019), Mind Over Matter: Cognitive Neuroengineering, The Dana Foundation, Retrieved From, http://dana.org/Cerebrum/2019/Mind_Over_Matter_Cognitive_Neuroengineering/
Pozgar, G. D. (2019). NVPMD: Legal aspects of healthcare administration. 13E-Liberty Custom. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett. ISBN: 9781284170931.
Samanthi , (2017), Difference Between Gene Therapy and Stem Cell Therapy, Key Difference – Gene Therapy vs Stem Cell Therapy, https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-gene-therapy-and-vs-stem-cell-therapy/