Home > Uncategorized > Has regulation slowed Scientific Progress.

Has regulation slowed Scientific Progress.

As we read and went over in class, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, I kept thinking about how all of the scientists conducted their research until, various laws and such came about which made their practices illegal. And so I thought about the question: Has increased regulations throughout the years led to a decrease in scientific progress? and was wondering what everyone thought about it. I for one think believe that it has hindered research and progress in many ways. If you think about it, most of the major medical discoveries of our time occurred way before most of our current regulations were introduced. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, there are references to doctors in injecting patients with cancer and syphilis without warning them. The Tuskegee institute injected healthy black men with Syphilis to study the effects of the disease. Dr. Southam injected patients (without their knowledge) directly with HeLa cells to test if patients could catch cancer from them. The HeLa cells, which the book is about, were taken without her knowledge but have lead to incredible discoveries such as the cure for polio, gene mapping, chemotherapy, and new cancer drugs. Had the current regulations been around in the time when Henrietta was being treated, all of these studies would never of happened but we wouldn’t have half of the medical discoveries that we do today. The case is strong to say that regulation slows progress, but there’s a point when we tradeoff human rights for scientific progress, and without regulation we would all unknowingly be lab rats. But is it worth trading our basic human rights to save thousands of lives?

  1. September 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Every year, a new version of the flu shot is created, encompassing any new or augmented strains such as H1N1. While keeping the flu at bay may seem more mundane than curing polio, it still keeps many people, especially those who are immunosuppresed, from suffering. If I remember correctly, the HPV vaccine, which will keep many people from developing cancer, was also created under current laboratory regulations and scientists are constantly getting closer to developing treatments for other diseases such as AIDS. I think that losing one’s humanity in the name of scientific progress is much too dangerous to justify scientific progress, especially when breakthroughs are still being discovered under the current system.

  2. September 19, 2011 at 12:07 am

    One of the most striking examples of medical research without regulation, in my opinion, are the Nazi’s human testing. They made certain discoveries about humans, but in the end the most important thing to come out of their experiments was the Nuremberg Code which was a set of research ethics regarding human experimentation.

    In my opinion, there is never a good excuse for a breach in human rights or ethics. Yes, there have been some great discoveries, but in my opinion they can never be worth it. A big problem I have with the idea is that who’s to say it’s necessary? I have enough faith in past and present scientists to believe we don’t need to encroach on human rights or ethics in order to advance scientifically. Like katieinamasu said, the HPV vaccine and the development of treatments for certain diseases have successful without these violations. Since the Nuremberg Code, there have been people who have stretched the boundaries a little, such as in Henrietta Lacks’ case, but there have been so many great advances in the scientific and medical world that did not have to come at the hands of an injustice.

  3. September 19, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I think that the tradeoff you are talking about is most important. Patients should always be treated with respect. Just because someone contracts an illness does not mean they can become a scientific experiment. At the same time, doctors involved with patients have to effectively gauge and understand when it is right and when it is wrong to use patients for scientific research. I do not believe that regulations have greatly hindered scientific advancement because – even though we eradicated many diseases in the first half of the 20th century – science is always evolving and today the advancements are exponential.

  4. Sean
    September 19, 2011 at 2:15 am

    I dont think that scientific progress is worth risking human rights. Yes its a good argument that one person’s rights being taken away to save thousands, but what about when any of those thousands of people get their rights taken away? The cycle would just repeat with people of this and future generations, causing the unjust infections of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people. Today, science still makes many different scientific discoveries, even with all of the rules and regulations. All of the advancements in AID’s, Cancer, and HPV virus, shows that advancements can still be made through regulations. Therefore, regulations really do not stop scientific discoveries. They may slow them down, but it does not stop them from happening. So, the regulations are worth it because scientific discoveries are still happening all the time while also people are staying safe.

  5. dj74
    September 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    All of the federal, administrative, moral and ethical hula-hoops that researchers must jump through in order to even begin testing on tissues, let alone testing on live animal or humans is so elaborate and extensive that it may be a decade from the beginning of the research to the mass production of the commercial drug. I am not advocating for them to start clandestinely injecting unsuspecting patients with viruses and experimental drugs for their research, but I do believe that these regulations are a little restrictive. Scientific progress would intensify if it weren’t for the legal restrictions. Now I’m specifically speaking from the legal point of view and not the medical POV—which is more along the lines of when the drug is deemed safe for mass production and commercial use. I do believe the researchers have our best health in mind (otherwise why would they spend so much time perfecting the formula), and if they do not it would most likely lead to a swarm of lawsuits from sick people. I don’t think that researchers would cut corners just to develop their product quicker, but I do think that with all the legal paperwork their focus is unfairly split between satisfying human health needs and protecting themselves from a mountain of lawsuits.

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