U.S. approves first “ethical” embryonic stem cell lines

December 3, 2009

stem-cellsThe U.S. government has approved the first 13 batches of human embryonic stem cells, enabling researchers using them to get millions of dollars in federal funding as promised by President Barack Obama in March.

According to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the stem cell lines met strict ethical restrictions. The cells, for instance, have to have been made using an embryo donated from leftovers at fertility clinics and parents must have signed detailed consent forms.

(Photo:Ampoules with stem cell storage medium/Peter Macdiarmid)

As our Health and Science Editor Maggie Fox reports, Collins described these criteria as an acceptable compromise between those who want this research to go ahead and critics who oppose it because human embryos are destroyed in the process of making these stem cells.

“I think the broad consensus among most of the public … is that stem cell research of this ethically acceptable kind should go forward,” he told reporters in a telephone briefing on Wednesday. “These were derived from embryos derived under ethically sound consent processes.”

Collins said these embryonic stem cells are still needed for research even though scientists have found ways to turn ordinary cells into what resemble embryonic stem cells. “I think one could make a very strong case that we need both,” he said.

Read the whole story here.

Is this an acceptable compromise? Is there an ethical difference between embryos created just to produce stem cells and embryos left over at fertility clinics?

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One comment

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[…] With the first approvals of new human stem cell lines, and the prospect of hundreds more to be made available for use in federally-funded research, it […]

Posted by ZDNet Healthcare mobile edition | Report as abusive

What a sad state of affairs this is that human embryos are referred to as “leftovers”. Is this deliberate desensitization or what? The more we use this type of language the more we negate the humanity of man at his/her earliest stages. Please just state what they are even if it means typing in a few more words. These are embryos that parents are chosing not to implant. Calling them leftovers turns my stomach.

Posted by hope4lf | Report as abusive

[…] Bush. President Obama overturned Bush’s restrictions shortly after taking office. Sources: Reuters, Dec. 3 – Telegraph, Dec. 3 – theatlanticwire.com, Dec. 3 – AP, Dec. […]

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