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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Researching Embryonic Stem Cells Unnecessary

Scientists from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh announced in a press release last Thursday that adult or post-natal stem cells have the same ability to multiply as embryonic stem cells. This is highly significant because of the moral problems associated with using stem cells from human embryos. Basically, this means that there are no advantages to using embryonic cells over adult cells, as was previously believed, and one would hope that research using the stem cells from human embryos would therefore cease.

One other huge advantage to using adult stem cells is that they can be taken from the patient himself which would eliminate the risk of rejection. Embryonic stem cells are foreign organisms which the patient's immune system would attack.

People in the pro-life movement have opposed embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that is is wrong to kill human beings for the purpose of conducting experiments on them, even if those experiments would ultimately benefit some people.

The conclusion is that in addition to being immoral (which is reason enough to stop), researching therapies using embryonic stem cells offers no unique benefits and may actually be the less effective strategy.

But don't take my word for it. Read this from some of the world's top researchers in the field.

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Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Worth bookmarking. Good find!

Preachrboy said...

I hate to be cynical, but this won't stop them, I fear.

I don't have the citation, but this has been said for quite some time - at least that adult stem cells were a more promising line of research.

But the other side of this will either discredit or ignore the evidence. Too many people are already too invested in the idea of embryonic research.

Unqualified Celebrities who support the destruction of embryos for speculative cures unfortunately carry more weight than documented scientific evidence like this. Even when it does square with the morally right thing to do.

Phil said...

John Opitz, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Human Genetics, and Obstetrics/Gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine testified before the President’s Council on Bioethics that over half of all naturally conceived embryos are lost (spontaneously aborted) within 7 days after conception. About 60% of the embryos lost are abnormal, but the others are not, and had they implanted they could have been born and become babies.

At what point does an embryo or fetus acquire moral signficance? If human life begins with conception and early embryos are as deserving of life as the rest of us, why isn't early pregnancy loss a major tragedy and health crisis? Also, doesn't Mother Nature have a lot to answer for?

Preachrboy said...

Maybe we should be researching this too, Phil. I have NO evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if better nutrition and health care haven't reduced the rate of spontaneous abortions already (at least in our country). But I don't believe it's Mother Nature but Broken Nature that is to be blamed for the losses here.

What bothers us pro-life types is when the "accidents of nature" become an argument for purposeful experimentation. I could use the same logic to say that the average nursing home patient only lasts about a year - to say that we should therefore experiment on them! Imagine the advances in geriatric medicine! We might even cure Alzheimers! But the reason this probably revulses most people is because we recognize the value of some of our most helpless and hopeless humans - someone's mom, or dad, or grandparent.

Why not recognize the value of someone's son or daughter or grandchild? No. Instead, let's experiment on them because some people don't credit them with "moral significance".

jane said...

interesting blog!

Phil said...

Suppose there is a fire in a fertility clinic and you have time to save either someone who works there or a vat of frozen embryos. Which would you choose?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I tried to respond to this before, but apparently it did not save.

Your question reminds me of the old scenario of the lifeboat. You are on a sinking ship with one remaining lifeboat. The lifeboat can only hold 5 people, but there are 6 of you. How do you decide who lives and who dies? I can't answer your question with a pat response because I'm not equipped to evaluate the relative worth of individual human lives.

Whom would I choose? I don't know.

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