Lets talk about Ethics: Am I using embryos when getting Stem Cells Treatments?

Stem cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, under de direction of Dr. Mesén is a pioneer in the use of Stem Cells therapies; we want our patients to be confident about the quality of our therapies and the transparency of our procedures. We want to help you answering some question you might have in mind about this new field, that´s why we want to go over this question: Am I using embryos when getting Stem Cells Treatments? What is all this controversy?

Stem cell therapies are not exactly a new medical trend; doctors have been using bone marrow stem cell transplants for decades. The controversy and excitement started when scientists learned how to remove stem cells from human embryos in 1998.

The huge potential these cells have in curing human disease provoked high expectations, but the moral implications of destroying human embryos was definitely a concern. There were many questions about the use of embryos: Is a human embryo equivalent to a human child? Does life begin at birth, at fertilization or in the womb? Does a human embryo have any rights?

At this point, political leaders had to debate over how to regulate and fund research involving human embryonic stem cells and many studies where made with few or no regulations at the beginning. It was also a concern the existence of health professionals who may profit with the unregulated use of embryos or even “create” embryos to sell embryonic stem cells.

In the United States, laws prohibit the creation of embryos for research purposes. Scientists instead receive “leftover” embryos from fertility clinics with consent from donors. Legislators have had the challenge of encouraging advances in science and medicine while preserving a respect for life.

This changed in 2006 when scientists learned how to stimulate a patient’s own cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. The induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) technology was pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka´s lab in Kyoto, Japan who showed that the introduction of four specific genes encoding transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. These cells reduced the need for human embryos in research and opened up exciting new possibilities for stem cell therapies.

For now, some human embryos will still be needed for research, due to the fact that iPS cells are not exactly the same as embryonic stem cells, and this cells still provide important controls. But, it is important to highlight that most therapies nowadays are using induced pluripotent Stem Cells.

At Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, we use adult stem cells. We harvest stem cells from a sample of your own bone marrow or adipose tissue and later we inject them intravenously or directly in the zone required, depending on the disease we are treating. The therapies are legally approved in Costa Rica and they are highly secure. You can be sure that using our therapies you are not attempting against the ethical standards of human life.

So going back to the question: I´m I using embryos when getting Stem Cells Treatments? The response is NO. You are using your own adult stem cells in the therapies provided for our Institute and we are really excited about helping you improve you quality of life through the highest standards of quality and responsibility