Stem cell research became pronounced in 1998 when scientists recorded success in isolating and culturing the human embryonic stem cell. The stem cell also referred to as the pluripotent stem cell was able to multiply and form other specialized cells that occur in the human body (Frank, 2006). This gave the inventions in health science a huge boost since it would be able to have advance in health care programs. This was a development from the previous invention in 1981 of the embryonic stem cell in mice to that of a human embryonic cell in 1998 (Stem Cell Information, 2010).
In August 23, 2000 the then President Clinton’s administration issued guidelines in the federal register that would govern the human embryonic stem cells use; this was later followed by a review on April 25 2001 during the reign of president Bush. Clinton’s administration had set on limiting the research on Stem cell. On 9th August 2001 President Bush authorized the funding of human embryo stem cell researches that existed before this date.
This funding was subject to four conditions which were: firstly; the donor must have consented to the project, secondly, the embryos must have been formed for reproductive functions and needed to be produced in excess to be used for clinical needs. Thirdly, the donor must not have any gains or financial inducements from the project, and fourthly, the human embryos created should not be for research intentions (Jane, 2001). This paved way for the National Institute of Health (NIH) to control such projects.
Bills that historically shaped the enforcement of the technology include; the 108th Congress house bills such as; Human cloning prohibition act (H.R. 534 February 2003) that sought to prohibit reproductive and therapeutic cloning with strict penalties on the defaulters. The cloning of humans act (H.R. 801 February 2003), this bill sought amendments to federal food, drug, and cosmetics act in relation to cloning persons (Federal Policy, 2009). Other bills in the 108th congress were the human cloning research prohibiting act (H.R. 916) and the Human cloning prevention act (H.R. 938 February 2003) (Scott, 2005).
The bills that sought to allow research funding for stem cell in the United States were the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, 2007, and later 2009 respectively (Federal Policy, 2009).
Statutes in the US and the rest of the world
In the United States the stem cell research has been allowed in several states but clear guidelines have been declared such as; research on fetus, research on fetus from abortion, and trade in the human tissues for research purposes. States allowing it include; Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Illinois, Indiana, and California. The rest of the world has remained silent in the matter with no clear guidelines in many parts though some allow it while other restricts it with no clear reason (Pam, & Gasil, 2007).
The European Union is yet to declare a common regulation for its member states but, its members such as; Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal Finland, Netherlands, and Greece have forbid the use of the technology. In Sweden, UK, Belgium, and France they have a legal framework for the research.
In the UK it is allowed but its restrictive rules include; the research needs to enhance comprehension of the development of the cells, and serious illnesses, and use the information in the treatment of major chronic illnesses (Stem Cell Information, 2010). In Africa only South Africa has a stem cell bank while the others remain silent on the issue.
In Asia, China and South Korea has forbidden cloning of humans but allowed the generation of human embryo to be used in research and treatment. India has banned it while in Japan research is allowed. Most Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia still hold a ban on the practice in their territories.
Current and future state of affairs
An executive order by President Barrack Obama on 9th March 2009 sought to remove all “barriers to responsible scientific research involving Human Stem Cells” (Executive Order, 2009). This has ensured tremendous research in the field and many more funded projects to study this technology.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has been mandated to regulate the research and the funding in this order which must be implemented in line with the permitted law. The research must also be done ethically, scientifically worthy, and responsibly. The NIH monitors and evaluates the donation process, the research and the benefits of the research that all are in line with given directives (Stem Cell Information, 2010).
Though this technology has been rejected by some people especially religious leaders; to those who have adopted it have had several benefits that are revolutionary especially in the treatment of chronic illnesses e.g. cancer, and diabetes (Frank, 2006). To those who have reproductive problems they can sigh relief since their solution is found in the cloning of their cell and they are able to reproduce. Current developments can only be described as a landmark in this technology but the future holds better and brighter innovations where scientists will be working day and night to produce a human being of their own that grows to get life and live long. Though this will go against religious teachings time is yet to tell whether scientists will stand the test of time.
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