Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stem Cell Breakthrough Avoids Embryo Destruction

The news is all abuzz with the announcement that scientists have successfully turned skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, the kind sought after in embryonic stem cell research, only without creating and destroying embryos in the process.

On Tuesday, ScienceNOW Daily News reports that

"Scientists have managed to reprogram human skin cells directly into cells
that look and act like embryonic stem (ES) cells. The technique makes it
possible to generate patient-specific stem cells to study or treat disease
without using embryos or oocytes--and therefore could bypass the ethical debates that have plagued the field. "This is like an earthquake for both the science
and politics of stem cell research," says Jesse Reynolds, policy analyst for the
Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, California."
(ScienceNOW Daily News, 20 November 2007)

Not only this science journal, but Cell, the AP, Reuters, the LA Times, and various bioethics blogs and websites are bubbling over with talk about this latest breakthrough.

This is good news for the ethics-minded. Up until now, many proponents of ESCR have insisted on continuing their research over non-ESCR methods, citing the pluripotency of cells found in abunant supply in human embryos. Now, scientists can make stem cells from skin cells and avoid having to clone and farm human embryos to obtain similar results.

And I do mean similar. The ScienceNOW article, for all it's positive tone, inserts a caveat as to the abilities of the newly made cells, that they possibly could turn tumorous. Well, what's new about that? Embryonic stem cells have long exhibited tumorous tendencies and have failed to treat even one disease. Only try getting a news story to point that out!

For better blogging about this issue, please check out Secondhand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith's blog, as he has been keeping up with this issue closer than anyone else I can think of.

No comments: