As we have already known before that Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Debate are from so many different types of peoples and from different country and place in all over the world, Human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) are currently discussed not only by the biologists by whom they were discovered but also by governments, the medical profession, ethicists, politicians and off course..media. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, these ‘super cells’ have a major clinical potential in tissue repair, with their proponents believing that they represent the future relief or cure of a wide range of common disabilities; replacement of defective cells in a patient by transplantation of hES cell‐derived equivalents would restore normal function. On the other hand, the use of hES cells is highly controversial because they are derived from human pre‐implantation embryos. To date, most embryos used for the establishment of hES cell lines have been spare embryos from IVF, but the creation of embryos specifically for deriving hES cells is also under discussion. The most controversial variant of this is the transfer of a somatic cell‐nucleus from a patient to an enucleated oocyte (unfertilized egg) in order to produce hES cells genetically identical to that patient for ‘autologous’ transplantation (so‐called ‘therapeutic’ cloning); this may prevent tissue rejection.
The most important question right now is…Can these cells be isolated and used ? if so, under what conditions and restrictions’ is presently high on the political and ethical agenda, with policies and legislation being formulated in many countries to regulate their derivation. The UK has been the first to pass a law governing the use of human embryos for stem cell research. The European Science Foundation has established a committee to make an inventory of the positions taken by governments of countries within Europe on this issue (European Science Foundation, 2001).
What is the ontological status of hES cells? Should they be considered equivalent to embryos or not? Let us first consider the status of the ‘naked’, isolated inner cell mass (ICM; the source for deriving hES cell lines). The ICM is as it were the ‘essence’ of the pre‐implantation embryo, the precursor of the ‘embryo proper’. The isolated ICM, however, no longer has the potential to develop into a fetus and child, as trophoblast cells, necessary for implantation and nourishment of the embryo, and extra‐embryonic endoderm, are absent. It does not necessarily follow, though, that the isolated ICM is no longer an embryo—we suggest that the whole, isolated ICM could best be qualified as a disabled, ‘non‐viable’ embryo (even though it might, at least in theory, be ‘rescued’ by enveloping the ICM with sufficient trophoblast cells).
What, then, is the status of the individual cells from the ICM once isolated, and the embryonic stem cell lines derived from them? Should we consider these cells/cell lines to be non‐viable embryos too? We would argue that when the cells of the ICM begin to spread and grow in culture, the ICM disintegrates and the non‐viable embryo perishes. Some might argue that hES cells are embryos, because, although hES cells in themselves cannot develop into a human being, they might if they were ‘built into’ a cellular background able to make extra‐embryonic tissues necessary for implantation and nutrition of the embryo. At present this is only possible by ‘embryo reconstruction’ in which the ICM of an existing embryo is replaced by ES cells (Nagy et al., 1993). Commentators who, against this background, regard hES cells as equivalent to embryos, apparently take recourse to the opinion that any cell from which a human being could in principle be created, even when high technology (micromanipulation) would be required to achieve this, should be regarded as an embryo. An absurd implication of this ‘inclusive’ definition of an embryo is that one should then also regard all somatic cells as equivalent to embryos—after all, a somatic nucleus may become an embryo after nuclear transplantation in an enucleated oocyte. It is therefore unreasonable to regard hES cells as equivalent to embryos.