Stem cell research is a comparatively new playing field. Scientists and research workers are hopeful that breakthroughs in root cell research will be made in order to handle and perchance bring around several serious diseases. Although there are arguments and contentions environing such research, many states have developed statute law in order to regulate this issue. However, South Africa is non among these open uping states as this state does non hold any definite, specific Torahs sing root cell research. This assignment will cover with the assorted factors that may act upon determinations on root cell research statute law, and whether South Africa should go through statute law to let root cell research or non.

Stem cells are the foundation and edifice blocks for the human organic structure. The root cells inside an embryo will finally develop into every cell, organ and tissue in the fetus ‘s organic structure. They are pluripotent which enables them to retroflex to make more root cells, and besides to distinguish to give rise to many different and more specialized cell types in the organic structure. ( Unknown, Information on Stem Cell Research, 2010 ) .

The Different Types of Stem Cells

There are two types of normally known root cells, Human Embryonic Stem Cells ( HESC or limitless root cells ) , and Adult Stem Cells ( ASC or limited root cells ) .

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HESC are presently harvested, with the patient ‘s permission, from left over 3-5 twenty-four hours old embryos which are normally discarded by birthrate clinics. These embryos have been clinically created and exist wholly outside of the organic structure ( in vitro ) . They are called limitless root cells because they can develop into any sort of cell type or tissue. ( Unknown, 2009 )

Diagram demoing embryologic root cells that originate as interior mass cells within a blastodermic vessicle and so hold the possible to go any tissue in the organic structure

( Image taken from: hypertext transfer protocol: // )

ASC are found throughout the organic structure, after embryologic development. They are found chiefly in grownup bone marrow ( in mature persons ) and in umbilical cord blood ( of the fetus ) . ASC multiply by cell division to refill deceasing cells and to renew damaged tissues. ( Unknown, 2009 )

Diagram demoing the development of grownup root cells from extracted bone marrow

( Image taken from: hypertext transfer protocol: // )

Ethical motives on Stem Cell Research – Assorted Point of views

There have been many ethical arguments refering root cell research, the chief one focussing on embryologic root cell research as it requires the devastation of an embryo in order to reap the root cells.

Many people believe that an embryo is tantamount to an early-aged human life, and that embryologic root cell research is equivalent to slay. Others believe that embryos merely have the potency for life, as they may non even survive in the uterus. As more than a 3rd of fertilized ovums do n’t engraft after construct, far more embryos are lost due to opportunity than are proposed to be used for embryologic root cell research or interventions. The three faiths that have made their positions on root cell research known, follows:

Church Views on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

-The Baptist Church: opposes embryologic root cell research because the “ Bible Teachs that human existences are made in the image and similitude of God ( Gen. 1:27 ; 9:6 ) and protectable human life begins at fertilisation. ” ( SBC Resolutions: Resolution On Human Embryonic And Stem Cell Research, 1999 )

-The Catholic Church believes that “ the violent death of guiltless human animals, even if carried out to assist others, constitutes an perfectly unacceptable act. ” ( On Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Unknown )

-The Lutheran Church believes that:

‘Embryos are non, as some claim, ‘potential human existences ‘ but are wholly and to the full human in every manner although in the early procedure of physical development ( Jer. 1:5 ) . The Christian is called to support life at all phases of development and in all conditions because it is a gift from God ( Luke 1:41, 44 ; Psalm 139:16 ; Is. 49:1, 5 ) . Embryonic root cell research needfully involves the knowing devastation of human existences, and hence must be rejected as morally obnoxious. Governmental leaders should be urged to reject utilizing public financess for research that intentionally and deliberately putting to deaths human existences. ‘ ( A Statement on the Proposed Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, 2006 )

Therefore it is shown once and for all that Christians oppose embryologic root cell research.

Muslim Positions on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Islamic bookmans believe that because the embryo ( pre-embryo from IVF ) is non in its natural environment, i.e. the uterus, it would non hold been able to go a human being. Therefore, they believe that at the phase at which embryos are used to reap root cells, the embryo is non human and does non hold a psyche as yet. Their position is that there is nil incorrect in making research, particularly if it has a possible to bring around and relieve disease. However, Muslims believe that it is of import that embryos are non misused and that the embryos used for root cell research are those discarded by birthrate clinics. They emphasise that embryos should non be produced merely for root cell research. ( Siddiqi, Unknown )

Judaic Positions on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Hebraism has similar positions to that of Islam. Judaism allows for the devastation of pre-embryos. Stem cell research is allowed because root cells have the possible to salvage lives of people who have already been born. However, like Islam, Judaism would oppose the deliberate production of embryos in order to destruct them for research. ( Eisenberg, 2001 )

Among three faiths in South Africa, Christianity is the 1 that opposes embryologic root cell research with the belief that embryos should be protected as they are considered as life, human existences. However, the other two faiths, Islam and Judaism, both believe that embryologic root cell research is allowable because it has the possible to salvage the lives of many, already populating people. Both these faiths believe that the embryos used to reap root cells must be those that would hold been discarded even if they were n’t to be used in research. All three faiths support grownup root cell research.

The undermentioned pie chart shows that Christians comprise the highest per centum group of the population, and since Christianity opposes embryologic root cell research, it is understood that the bulk of the South African population would in fact oppose such research.

( Pie chart adapted from hypertext transfer protocol: // )

Funding needed for Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research requires huge sums of money in order to progress and it is frequently brought to inquiry whether the South African authorities will be able to supply the necessary support for scientists and research workers. For illustration, in the USA, $ 300 million dollars is allocated each twelvemonth, and spread over 100 establishments in the province of California for root cell research. ( Palca, 2007 ) This money is acquired from tax-payers and in a state like South Africa ; it would be really hard to acquire such immense sums from tax-payers. There are many grounds as to why this is, chiefly because South Africa is still a underdeveloped state and many citizens live in poorness. There may besides be many people who object to helping in the support of root cell research.

Support may be provided by private investors. However, this could ensue in research being restricted harmonizing to the dictates of such companies i.e. Research may be limited to certain diseases. Furthermore, the fruits of privatised root cell research may merely function the elite or those on medical assistance, non filtrating down to those on the land, unless authorities begins to play an active function.

Potential Uses of Stem Cells

There are many possible utilizations and advantages to stem cell research. These are:

It provides medical benefits in the field of regenerative medical specialty. ( Pillai, Unknown ) e.g. Embryonic root cells can be used to regrow damaged nervousnesss in people who are paralysed. ( Solway, 2007 )

Limbs and variety meats could be grown from root cells and so used in grafts. ( Pillai, Unknown ) Transplantable variety meats are scarce. Many people need organ grafts for their endurance, and so they could be helped.

There is great possible for detecting interventions and remedies to many diseases like Parkinson ‘s disease, spinal cord hurts, diabetes and many more. ( Pillai, Unknown )

Potential drugs can be tested without utilizing animate being or human examiners. ( Pillai, Unknown )

It will assist scientists to larn about human growing and cell development

Stem cell Torahs in South Africa

Stem cell Torahs are the regulations regulating the beginnings, research and utilizations of root cells. ( Unknown, 2010 )

In 2004, South Africa became the first African state to make a root cell bank. ( Unknown, 2010 ) However, there are no complete Torahs on how research workers should carry on their research, as South Africa is runing in a ‘regulatory vacuity ‘ – there are no restrictions set in topographic point. Many issues environing root cells have non been debated and specific statute law sing root cells is missing. ( Pepper, 2009 )

The Department of Health has published several bill of exchange ordinances but none of them are presently in force. This absence of ordinances could take to many possible jobs, some of which are already being experienced by South African citizens. Because of the deficiency of ordinances, many people are practising medically unseasoned methods of root cell intervention.

For illustration, eight South African patients thought that they were having root cell therapy for spinal cord hurt. However, five of them were told that they had to go overseas to have the intervention. Without going and adjustment disbursals, they were made to pay R122 500 per intervention. Four of them received coney root cells and one received autologous root cell intervention, i.e. he was treated with cells from his ain organic structure. The three patients that remained in South Africa were given root cells from an unknown beginning, and from sheep. All patients remained the same as before their interventions, none of their conditions improved. One of the patients developed the locked-in syndrome, a status in which a individual is awake and cognizant, but can non pass on because all voluntary musculuss are paralysed ( besides the eyes ) . This tabular array shows that many people have the possible to be financially exploited, and undergo unethical patterns because of the deficiency of Torahs sing root cells and root cell therapy. From this point of position, there is a definite demand for root cell Torahs in order to forestall instances like the above.

Table to Show Results of 8 South African Patients who

Received ‘Stem Cell ‘ Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury

Number of patients who had to go overseas

5 patients

Average cost per intervention ( excepting travel menus and adjustment )

R122 500

Beginning of root cells:

Rabbit root cells

Autologous root cells

Unknown beginning

Sheep root cells

4 patients

1 patient

1 patient

2 patients






-Via lumbar puncture

-Spinal surgery


-1 patient later developed the locked-in syndrome

-The others remained the same as before their therapies

( Skeen & A ; Pepper – unpublished paper presented at the 7th SASHSCT – Johannesburg, 30-31 January 2009

Stem Cell Laws in the USA

In America, there is no federal jurisprudence censoring root cell research. In 2003, a jurisprudence allowing human cloning for the intent of developing and reaping human root cells was passed.A Human embryos are allowed to be cloned, implanted into a uterus and so aborted for the usage of medical research. However, over the class of a few old ages, assorted political figures in America have had differing positions on root cell research. Bill Clinton and George W Bush opposed embryologic root cell research wholly. Bush went so far as to censor the usage of federal support for any root cell research. He did so due to ideological grounds and this indicates that root cell Torahs and support do rely and depend on the position of the state. However, Barack Obama late removed these

limitations. ( Stem cell Torahs and policy in the United States, 2010 )


There are many factors which may act upon the determination to go through statute law to let root cell research. There is a definite demand for Torahs to regulate what research workers may or may non make ; as there is possible for unethical activities, such as equivocation of the truth by companies who promise marvelous recoveries to vulnerable patients. The possibilities and advantages that stem cell research may convey seems to outweigh the fact that many South Africans may oppose it. Thousands of South Africans could potentially be helped by root cell therapies and so at that place needs to be facilitation for root cell research. However, this will merely be achieved with a specific regulative environment.

The political party in power inevitably has the option to base on balls or veto measures and ordinances sing root cell research. Presently, the ANC has no point of view on the affair. Many bill of exchange ordinances have been proposed by the Department of Health, but none of these are in force. It will hence be a long clip before the authorities provides proper guidelines covering with root cell research.

The illustrations cited in the above study make it clear that felons take advantage of despairing patients who could potentially be helped with legitimate root cell research. Proactive statute law will guarantee that the lifesaving benefits of this field can be passed on to the people who need it most, and greatly limits the types of assurance fast ones that can be played when such research is forced to remain in the shadows.

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