1950s to scientific technology of the 21st century, the idea of stem cell research and/or cloning has captured audiences the world over. Debates have raged as to the ethical considerations, commercial correctness, and familial concerns with respect to the process itself (Andrews, 1999). Like any other medical or sociological phenomenon, however, in today's world, human cloning has its pro-activists and protagonists, as well as those who loathe and condemn such research. Right or wrong, the scientific investigation into stem cell research is in the hands of those who -- with or without material, ulterior, or concealed motive -- are faced with the fact that human cloning carries with it massive moral responsibility. This report will examine an area of human cloning that is greatly misunderstood, and oftentimes rejected, namely stem cell research (Andrews, 1999). Unfortunately the process of human cloning is all too often thought of as a result and not a process of multiple complexities and diverse opportunities in medical and scientific venues. As such all concerned individuals, those for and those against, must begin to realize and understand that human cloning also includes the ability to create and/or produce a single human cell that can be used for purposes other than creating a total human being. In order to objectively evaluate the initial process of human cloning an article has been chosen wherein stem cell research is being used as a reproductive medical therapeutic tool for the purpose of strengthening the quality of life (QOL) of disease afflicted and organ damaged patients, rather than the purpose of creating a whole new life. The article chosen for review will be evaluated and critiques not only on the topical issue of stem cell research but also on such factors as whether or not the article's format was research correct, data supportive, and topically appropriate and sustainable.
Investigative Research Requirements. Research activities, whether case study based, clinical trial based, experimental, or historical must exhibit and command interest, enthusiasm, and passionate commitment. It is vital that the researcher catch the essential quality of the excitement of discovery that comes from research well done if expected results are to be gained. The first step in the attainment of the research goal is to develop a scientific approach toward the phenomenon being evaluated. Once the research goal is identified the investigator must abandon all forms of bias and look at the research situation as a controlled rational process of reflective inquiry.
Second, the structure of the research investigation must always include an identifiable problem, a methodology, the reporting of results, and the interpretation of results and the drawing of conclusions. The research report itself is not, by virtue of its design, and attempt to convince the reader of the virtue of the research. At all times the research report is to be written so that the reader can adequately draw his or her own conclusions as to the adequacy and validity of that which is being reported upon.
Third, research is not always a laboratory study, a case analysis, or a statistical comparison between and amongst independent and dependent variables. Research can also be in the form of qualitative historical reporting. Simply because a research endeavor does not present a testable null hypothesis or statistical data analysis, does not infer that the investigation is not viable, credible, or content knowledge useful and appropriate. A great deal of meaningful research can be found in the form of reporting information garnered by others. Oftentimes this type of research is labeled as a documentary analysis upon which the state of a present situation is reported. In developing a documentary analysis of an existing phenomenon, theory, or situation the research investigator is bound by the critical examination of source materials. Documentary studies cannot produce useful findings if the research report is based on erroneous findings.
Article Overview Evaluation and Problem Statement. Rosenthal and Lanza's (June 2004) article entitled the Stem Cell Challenge presents to the reader an excellent opportunity to clearly understand the benefits of stem cell research with respect to diseases that currently lack a cure; namely Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal core injuries, and cancer. According to the authors if one disregards the current debate on the moral and ethical issues surrounding this particular treatment modality, stem cell research, medically and scientifically speaking, offers hope to millions of afflicted individuals and successful applications can abruptly lower treatment and healthcare costs. Their position is further supported by the National Institutes of Health (2000), which promotes the processes on the basis of promising new treatment and cures for many debilitating diseases and injuries. Although not specifically stated the authors would likely feel that the NIH confirmation of the process is important because it ties the need for appropriate ethical standards to the scientific application (2003). Accompanied by strictly enforced regulatory compliance, researchers' ability to take a primitive type of embryonic stem (ES) and coax that cell into a possible combination of over 200 other cells is a magnificent accomplishment toward treating life-threatening medical illnesses according to the authors.
In the article Rosenthal and Lanza go on to explain to the reader that in the stem cell process, stem cells are generally extracted from surplus frozen embryos that are left over from in-vitro fertilization procedures. Once extracted the cells can be grown in a laboratory and subjected to medical application. In addition to the frozen embryo procedure, stem cells also can be extracted from adult tissue without any harm being inflicted upon the patient. These stem cells are used by matching the damaged neurological or organ tissues tissue of disease or spinal cord injury patient with the new cells for regenerative purposes. Because these cells have the possibility of developing into almost all types of tissue, of which there are 210 types in the human body, the authors suggest that introducing healthy cells into an at-risk body might restore an organ's function. What is most significant in stem cell replacement therapy is the cell's ability to continually divide throughout its life and take the place of damaged, lost, or dead cells. In essence what the authors are reporting is that these new cells effectively contribute to the human body's ability to repair and/or renew damaged tissues. They are vastly different from mature cells, which cannot change or renew themselves and cannot create new cells.
Research Data Reporting. Even though the Rosenthal and Lanza research report does not fall under the guise of experimental investigation, they did, however, carefully carry the reader through the steps of identifying true stem cells, identifying those ES cells that are more versatile than others, and those cells that are reliable 'markers' for the purpose of classifying genes - all of which are extremely important in reproductive therapeutic modalities. Taking the authors' data one step further the reader can readily conclude that the potential for stem cell therapy to assist those in the early stages of a debilitating disease is tremendous. However, the authors are extremely cautious about treading on moral issues and stop short of recommending the immediate use to ES therapy.
Other investigative areas covered by the authors, although sometimes unsubstantiated, include the possibility of mutations in cells if not used soon enough or correctly; the need to examine the overall health quotient of stored cells; the safety issues surrounding the production of ES cells without 'nuclear transfer'; and the need to fully examine the multi-potent characteristics of bone marrow cells. Again the authors, from a research investigative scenario, would be well advised to support their concerns by way of empirical research data. Not having documentary or sustainable sources available to the reader causes some concern as to the efficacy of their statements. On the other hand, a very powerful admission of the part of the authors' was the attention they paid to the possibility of unblocking the natural regenerative barriers that currently exist in human cells. This alone is magnanimous with respect to individuals structuring their own inherent cloning system. The idea presented by Rosenthal and Lanza is in respect to the possibility that stem cells are merely fusing to confined cells rather than the possibility of generating new ones. As a side bar note what is important here is that this particular area of stem cell research must be greatly expounded upon as well as aggressively researched.
The authors conclude their report by commenting on the future of stem cell research. The authors acknowledge that ES remains in an embryonic stage but give credence to the idea that additional controlled research is desperately needed before any therapeutic application can occur. Unfortunately the authors fell short of suggesting what areas need researched as well as which area or areas should be first. They conclude their article by postulating that human experimentation with stem cell therapy is imminent as such studies with animals have been positive. Bridging the gap, however, has numerous hurdles to overcome before any attempt is made to activity engage in human application, namely government approval, religious positioning and…