The Ethical Implications on Stem-Cell Research for Physicians

The Ethical Implications on Stem-Cell Research for Physicians

            Should life be improved at the expense of the beginners of life in the name of research?   This is the major question in stem cell research.  Stem cell research involves processes such as culturing and isolation of the embryonic stem cells.  The embryonic stem cell was found to be suitable by scientists due to its ability to differentiate into so many different cells.  This is more advantageous if compared to the adult stem cell that only differentiate to specific cells.  The embryonic stem cell is still that of a developing human being and therefore can develop into any type of cell.  This is normally found in the early stage of the embryo (Monroe et al. 169).

            The embryonic germ (EG) also has similar properties as the embryonic stem.  These embryonic germs originate from the fetus primordial reproductive cells.  This is the knowledge causing contradictions with the  leaders of several churches for example catholics, and some other members of the community who believe that an embryo is already a human being.  Scientists thought they made a major break through by finding out about the stem cell and the embryonic germ, but ethical implications seem to be creating some resistance to their use.

Scientists did recognize the importance of these cells in the generation of more specialized cells and tissues which could help in the treatment of several diseases.  Since the cells are able to develop any type of cell, they could be used to generate tissues and more cells to help treat injuries and some diseases.  The diseases of concern that can be handled by such kind of approach to therapy are such as Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure and heart disease among others (Monroe et al. 169).  There are ethical implications though to the use of embryonic stem cell in scientific research.  This is all this paper will discuss.  The ethical implications of stem cell research for Physician Assistants.

Physician Assistants

            Considering what these people do in the community, they are involved in the stem cell research.  They are professionals who perform duties that can only be performed by qualified physicians but under supervision by a physician.  They are therefore concerned about the health of the people too.  They work in areas of medicine and surgery and provide physician services through several health care programs such as Tri-care, Medicare and many others.  Since stem cell research forms part of physician activity in the society, physician assistants too are involved in stem cell research.  Physicians are trained to ensure effective health care and so would look for means to attaining that.  With the assistance of other scientists, research helps them find solutions to human diseases (AAPA 2003).

Physicians Assistants and Stem Cell Research

            Since in physician assistants’ profession anything that benefits the medical field is important, stem cell research is a important too.  Just like other scientists, physician assistants know that using stem cell research will enable the development of ways of treating diseases and repairing tissue which can either be damaged by trauma or disease.  They therefore through there organizations, for example the American Academy of Physician Assistants, support scientific research aimed at realizing potential benefits in medicine.

            The potential benefit of stem cell research as had been indicated is the ability to generate different cell types for treatment of different diseases.  Some serious illnesses that could be treated by this approach are Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, immunodeficiency diseases, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and several others (AAPA 2003).

The Implications

            Controversy occurs in the stem cell research due to ethical implications.  The main controversy is the use of embryos which are considered beginners of life, to treat diseases to save the lives of the old/already grown up people.  Saving people’s lives means treatment of the major serious illnesses among other medical interventions.  As noted earlier, scientists are for this kind of measure while those who believe embryos have morals just as human beings, do not agree with the treatment approach that uses embryos for research.

            There are other kinds of stem cell research that scientists use apart from the use of embryos, for example the use of EG and the use of adult cord blood stem cell.  These are not opposed as much as the embryonic stem cell research is.  In the study of adult and cord blood stem cell for example, harvesting of the stem cells do not cause any harm, this may be the reason why it is not disputed (Bellomo 57).

            Harvesting of embryonic stem cell however, raises questions in the society due to what is involved in the process.  Embryonic stem cell harvesting requires the destruction of blastocysts, which is an early stage of the embryo.  According to the scientists, an embryo is just a cluster of one fifty cells with no nervous system and therefore do not qualify to be a human being.  Further more, they argue, that the early stages of embryos are just surpluses obtained with the knowledge of the patients through in vitro fertilization (Bellomo 57).

            The people who believe in human morals contrary to the believe of the scientists know that embryos are already human beings and they believe that they too have morals.  The kind of process of harvesting them is killing of a human being.  The break through by scientist in the use of adult stem cell research has encouraged the fight to go on as adult stem cell research has been found to have the potential to treat the serious illnesses that embryonic stem cell research has the potential to treat too.  Since these diseases are the reason why embryonic stem cell research is supported by scientist, finding an alternative gives a strong base to reject the use of embryonic stem cell research by the people who believe that life begins immediately after conception.

            Another important ethical implication that was there is the appropriate informed consent from the embryos’ donors.  According to AAPA, embryos were being used to develop new cell lines, but since this seemed to raise concern about the lack of knowledge by the donors to the use of these embryos for such scientific research, a new action was taken.  Policies were made to make sure that the donors are made aware of the intentions of research with the embryos (AAPA 2003).

            Another ethical implication that came up due to embryonic stem cell research is the inappropriate use of the embryos.  In stem cell research, embryos were being used to clone human beings, that is they were being used for reproduction and not to find solutions to the diseases.  This, to the physician assistants is not also ethically acceptable.  In their profession therefore, they do not support the cloning of human beings by use of human embryo (AAPA 2003).

In Isolation of embryos, since the process that had implications involved destroying a blastocists, the physicians assistants developed new policies on creation of stem cell.  This is by use of nuclear transplantation.  This is considered an ethically responsible way of isolating new embryonic cell lines as there is no implantation of the blastocyst into the uterus.  The process also does not have the intentions of cloning a human being.  According to policies meant to guide physician assistants on stem cell research, creation of embryonic stem cells should be done with permission from the donors of the embryo (AAPA 2003).


            Development of advanced therapies can lead to a solution to the major diseases that human being suffer from.  Advanced therapies can only be achieve through thorough research on means of treatment.  Stem cell has been found to be one of the potential means through which treatment of problematic diseases can be achieved.  The only problem is the ethical issues.  Physician assistants strive to ensure that there is effective health care.  They therefore act on different raised ethical issues about any research that they are involved in, to ensure that success is achieved.

            If a research is found to be violating human rights according to the public, the physicians through their representative organization find ways of handling it so that it is acceptable in the community and the research goes on for the benefit of the community.  This reveals their role in the society in ensuring quality health care.  An example is the case discussed about stem cell research.  Ethical issues raised are on the use of embryos, which should not be so according to some people, but the physician assistants organization has policies on how to conduct stem cell research, which gives restrictions on inappropriate use of embryo.  Important message is that physician assistants support stem cell research but not its misuse.  Any ethical issue is also of their concern since this research has a high potential of helping them treat people.

Work Cited Page

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).  Advances in Adult and Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research, 2003. Retrieved on 23rd, October, 2008, from:


Bellomo, M. The Stem Cell Divide: The Facts, the Fiction, and the Fear Driving the Greatest Scientific, Political, and Religious Debate of Our Time. America: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. 2006.

Monroe, K. R., Miller, B. R. and Tobis, S, J. Fundamentals of the Stem Cell Debate: The Scientific, Religious, Ethical, and Political Issues. America: University of California Press, 2008.


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