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Location: United States

10/21/2006

Why the insistence on *embryonic* stem cell research?

First Things has has some good information on stem cell research lately. Here's a snip :

The truth about the technical challenges and scientific hurdles for embryonic stem-cell (ESC) therapies is finally getting out. The truth, of course, is that there are no human embryonic stem-cell therapies even in clinical trial, let alone ready for therapy, and there have been no major treatment models in animals, either. Adult stem cells, however, have already been successful in treating more than seventy different diseases in actual human beings.

Readers of First Things are well aware that the main objection to current methods of embryonic stem-cell research is that they involve the destruction of living human embryos, that is, human beings at the embryonic stage in their lives. This is a principled objection to the direct and intentional killing of human beings.

There is no principled objection to stem-cell research, not even to embryonic stem-cell research, provided that methods that do not destroy embryos are pursued. In fact, the May 2006 issue of First Things ran an article by E. Christian Brugger explaining and defending one such method, Altered Nuclear Transfer—Oocyte Assisted Reproduction (ANT-OAR), which has received broad support from the pro-life intellectual community. There are also techniques to dedifferentiate (reprogram) an adult somatic cell back to a state of pluripotency (in other words, to convert it directly to an embryonic-like stem cell). In both these methods, no embryos are created, no embryos are destroyed. All citizens could in good faith support these methods of producing embryonic-type (pluripotent) stem cells.


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