FaithWorld

Stem cell breakthrough — science the ethical way?

November 20, 2007

A microscopic view of undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells.We noted here just the other day the all-but-absent ethical angle in the Daily Telegraph story about the creator of Dolly the cloned sheep and a new technique for creating stem cells without embryos. Now, we have two reports from Maggie Fox, our Health and Science Editor in Washington, that address the scientific and ethical issues.

Our story length limits meant the two had to be broken up, but they should be read in tandem.

One deals with the science:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two separate teams of researchers announced on Tuesday they had transformed ordinary skin cells into batches of cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells — but without using cloning technology and without making embryos.

The other deals with the ethics :

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists and ethicists alike welcomed the news on Tuesday that two groups had been able to reprogram ordinary skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells — the body’s ultimate master cell.

Now, that’s more like it.

Despite all the optimism, this doesn’t mean the ethical debate is over. As Maggie’s second story explains, scientists will still work on embryonic stem cells because they could prove more powerful in the end. My question in the last post was whether opponents of embryonic stem cell research would support public funding for the new technique. Now I’m wondering how the debate about funding will play out between these two techniques.

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a look into the future – ain’t that a look into life as it comes ?!

 

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