Stem Cells: The New Fertility Drug


| 2 Comments

While visiting various news sites, a particular article in the L.A. Times on new developments in stem cell research caught my eye. The already controversial science is now being instituted in fertility experiments.

            After more than a decade of trial and error, Japanese scientists have proven that stem cells can be used to produce sperm and eggs. These reproductive units are then placed inside infertile mice, which after becoming impregnated successfully gave birth to pups. Although studies are ongoing, the mice pups appear to be normal and healthy. 

rat fertility.png

(Image credit of LA Times) 

            This breakthrough could have huge impacts in the field of human reproduction. If this process can be adapted to accommodate human beings, those who were previously infertile may be able to reproduce. This infertility could be caused from a variety of causes including age, cancer treatments, or other causes. Additionally the process may aid the 10% of American women of childbearing age who are unable to get or remain pregnant in having a normal pregnancy. The end hope of the study is to improve current fertility technology. Only 1/3 of the pregnancies that use current reproduction aids result in live births. Many scientists have concluded that stem cells could increase these percentages.

            Although this study does indeed to be miraculous, there are other things that also have to kept in mind. The Japanese scientists have yet to prove with absolute certainty that the process does not result in abnormalities in the baby mice. They appear to be fine now, but they are not fully grown yet. Additionally, the process may not even be adaptable to humans. It may work flawlessly in mice, but how could scientists prove that it would work with a human being without actually testing it on a human being? This poses yet another problem. Is there a human so desperate to be pregnant that they would risk possible complications to not only the child but also themselves?

            This stem cell study may be groundbreaking and interesting, but is it safe to adapt it to humans? Is it worth the risk? What do you think? 

2 Comments

In my opinion, it's worth the risk in the short-term but damaging in the long-term. While there's currently a problem with ageing populations that affects people our age in MEDCs, infertility does help keep the total world population down. Some scientists theorize (philosophize) that this is a natural feedback mechanism to keep numbers down. Solving infertility will allow the wealthy to have children whenever convenient - when really we should perpetuate the idea that smaller families are just as, if not more, desirable. In the long term, this could speed up population growth in MEDCs significantly. Not desirable in my opinion.

I think that stem cell studies are groundbreaking and research should continue. I want to say with certainty that it is worth the risk to adapt it to humans because infertility can be a heartbreaking thing for families. However, my reservation depends on the risks for women. I researched the topic and I couldn't find explicit possible risks but I did learn that: the hurdles are so big that some experts are skeptical about ever using the approach in people. "I don't think there's a lot of clinical potential here," said David A
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/05/new-fertility-treatments-mouse-stem-cells-biological-clock_n_1941069.html

Unfortunately, these stem implants are inefficient and it still requires a lot of time before it will be tested on humans.

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