28 Nov Wisconsin Right to Life applauds new stem cell discovery
The convergence of science and ethics is beautiful to behold. The beauty is significantly enhanced when science becomes not only more ethical, but more practical in application with great potential for human benefit. That is what appears to be happening with the recent disclosure that two separate teams of scientists have discovered a means to turn ordinary human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, without destroying living human embryos to do so.
To be certain, the ethical controversy over destruction of human embryos has been minimized, if not completely mitigated, by this discovery. This brings a huge sigh of relief for all engaged in the contentious, 10-year battle over embryonic stem cell research. It is a boon to those in need of treatments which pluripotent stem cells may some day be able to accomplish.
The practical benefits are enormous. It is far easier to extract skin cells from a child or adult than to create and destroy an embryo or gain permission to use and destroy a frozen embryo. There is a limited supply of frozen embryos. Embryonic stem cells will be rejected because they carry the DNA of a different human person; using a person’s own cells eliminates the rejection factor. Human cloning, and all of the risks and disadvantages associated with this process, is no longer necessary.
Women will not have to undergo risks to produce enough eggs to allow human cloning to be practiced. The perceived need to create chimeras, which are part animal-part-human, to carry out cloning is eliminated.
In spite of this discovery, there are some who continue to trumpet the need for funding of embryonic stem cell research. Some continue to mistakenly report that there are no federal funds available for embryonic stem cell research. Under the policy adopted by President Bush in 2001, federal funds are available to carry out research on embryonic stem cell lines already created at that time, but not to destroy new embryos for research purposes.
It is also time to cease misleading the public into believing that cures from embryonic stem cells are right around the corner when they have no application for human use at this time.
Along with the discovery that human skin cells can be turned into pluripotent stem cells, scientists at the University of Wisconsin have already created eight new stem cell lines using this process. It is clear that more study and research need to be conducted to determine if these cells can one day achieve the promise of having the ability to turn into any cell in the human body.
Take a bow
Applause is due to several people. President Bush certainly deserves credit for holding the line on federal funding of destruction of human embryos. Without his adherence to the moral principle that human lives should not be destroyed for research purposes, it is possible that this discovery may never have happened or may have been delayed. Wisconsin Right to Life applauds state Senator Ted Kanavas’ call to fund this new research. Credit also goes to Professor James Thomson for his recognition of the ethical and practical benefits of discovering a new way to generate pluripotent stem cells.
Do we as a society have to allow science to go wherever it leads at any human cost? Thanks to the moral fortitude and diligence of many, we have learned, once again, that advances in the treatment of human persons do not have to sacrifice one person for the benefit of another.
• Tom Still: Five reasons why Wisconsin is positioned to ride the wave of stem-cell research
• New stem cell technique could end social controversy
• WARF submits technical changes to stem cell patents
• UW-Madison receives $7.2 million grant to develop ALS stem cell therapy
• National stem cell bank adds new cell lines
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