Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

4-22-2013

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Major

Biology: Pre-Med

Primary Subject Area

Biology, Cell; Biology, Molecular; Philosophy

Keywords

stem cells, pluripotent, embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, stem cell research, iPSC, ESC, hiPSC, hESC

Disciplines

Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Medical Cell Biology | Medical Molecular Biology

Abstract

Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research has spurred ethical controversy ever since it became feasible in 1998. The reason for this is due to the fact that hESC research requires the destruction of a human embryo, thereby causing the cessation of life for that developing human. Despite this unavoidable consequence, many advocates of hESC research hold to the belief that the embryo is not actually a human person, and therefore deem the destruction of the embryo as justifiable. Many advocates of hESC research also have pointed to the unprecedented medical potential of hESCs to argue in favor of their case. However, advocates of hESC research needlessly defend their position. This is because a new type of human stem cell with the same type of potential as hESCs was created in 2007. These new stem cells are referred to as human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). hiPSCs are generated without the destruction of a human embryo, and thus avoid the ethical controversy associated with hESCs. Besides their ethical supremacy, hiPSCs have a biological advantage over hESCs due to their lack of immunogenicity that stems from their autological nature. This makes hiPSCs better suited for medicinal use in disease modeling, drug testing, and cell mediated therapy. These ethical and biological advantages are the reasons why hESC research should cease and hiPSCs should be utilized in their place.

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