By: Wyatt Redd
There’s been a lot of talk about stem cell research over the past few years. The issue has become a kind of cultural tug-of-war about what we consider ethical in medical research. But amidst all the controversy, it can be hard to figure out what’s true and what’s just spin.
But even with all the controversy, a lot of people remain optimistic that stem cell research could help cure some of the most untreatable conditions, such as fibromyalgia.
So what’s the truth about stem cell research? Why is it so controversial? And could it be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia?
What Is Stem Cell Research?
Stem cell research is research into stem cell therapy, which is a cutting-edge field of scientific research based on the idea that therapy with human stem cells could lead to effective treatments for many diseases. So what are stem cells, and how does stem cell research work?
Basically, the cells in the body start as stem cells. At a certain point in their development, your body assigns them a special purpose. Some stem cells become brain cells or others become skin cells. But once your cells have developed in this way, they can’t switch to something else. A brain cell can’t become a skin cell.
But stem cells can become anything. So the hope is that stem cell research can be used to implant stem cells into damaged tissue so that your body can use them to repair that damage.
Why Is Stem Cell Research So Controversial?
You’ll often hear people on one side argues that stem cell research will revolutionize medicine and usher us into an era where even the most severe diseases can be treated easily and without side effects. And the other side has plenty of people who will tell you that stem cell research would result in a world where unborn fetuses are grown in vats to be ghoulishly harvested for treatment material.
That’s led to a great deal of controversy in the past between groups who think limiting research into a therapy that may finally cure the diseases their loved ones are dying from is criminal and people who think harvesting the tissue of unborn embryos is an equally offensive idea. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between.
The reality is that stem cells for research are mostly gathered from human cells that were left unused in in-vitro fertilization clinics and would never really grow into a fetus anyway and certainly have no possibility of ever being born unless they were implanted artificially into a woman’s womb. Often, these fertilized embryos are frozen for later implantation, but inevitably there are leftover embryos that eventually need to be discarded. So either these embryos are used for research or they are essentially thrown in the trash.
But if you feel that the idea of taking human embryos and using it for medical procedures is wrong, then it makes sense that you would be opposed to stem cell research. That is how it works. And as far as the idea that they will revolutionize medicine goes, that’s likely true. There are a number of exciting procedures that might become possible with stem cell research. But there are already some obvious limits to what stem cell research might one day be able to do.
So if you’re trying to decide how you feel about stem cell research, here’s the basic question you need to ask yourself: Do you mind the idea of human cells being used for medical research, and do the potential benefits outweigh the ethical cost (assuming you consider it unethical, to begin with)?
Can Stem Cell Research Lead To A Cure For Fibromyalgia?
Regardless of how you feel about stem cell research, the evidence has shown that it has a lot of promise for treating a number of difficult-to-treat conditions, such as brain tumors. But because research into stem cell therapy is such a new field, and because the legal issues surrounding it have been so thorny, there is still a lot of work to be done to develop effective cures.
And fibromyalgia is one field where there’s been next to no research as far as stem cells go. And it’s not clear how stem cell therapy would be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia. We still don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, so it would be difficult to design an effective therapy based on anything, even stem cells.
And stem cells work by regenerating damaged cells, but fibromyalgia doesn’t actually result in damaged tissue. While the bodies of fibromyalgia patients are in constant pain, their actual cells remain the same, so there is no damage for stem cells to repair. If we discover some day that the source of fibromyalgia pain is damaged cells in the brain or nerves, then an effective stem cell therapy could be designed.
But so far, this doesn’t seem to be the case. And that means that stem cell therapy is unlikely to be the silver bullet cure for fibromyalgia that we might hope. So it seems in the foreseeable future that the search for a cure will continue.
But you tell us, how do you feel about stem cell therapy? Is it ethical? Should more research into fibromyalgia and stem cell therapy be done? Let us know in the comments.