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SCI/TECH: Scientists Devise Stem Cell Methods to Ease Concerns

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posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 07:13 PM
Scientists have developed two methods of deriving stem cells that may end the ethical debate over stem cell research. In neither process is an embryo destroyed, which has been the ethical stumbling block to federal funding and support from "pro-life" groups. This will unlikely sway the radical "pro-life" element who oppose even in vitro fertilization. However, eliminating harm to human embryos would no doubt lead to both widespread acceptance and federal funding for stem cell research.
In a development that may shift the political debate over embryonic stem cells, researchers have devised two new techniques designed to alleviate ethical concerns.

In one, the cells are derived without the need to destroy an embryo, the principal objection of abortion opponents who have strenuously opposed federal financing of the research. The other technique makes skin cells revert to the embryonic state in a way that prevents the embryo from implanting in the uterus. Both are described in today's online edition of Nature.

The technique for making embryonic stem cells without compromising the embryo was developed in mice and has yet to be adapted to humans, but the two species are very similar at this level of embryonic development. "I can't think of a reason why the technique would not theoretically work" in people, said Brigid M. Hogan, an embryologist at Duke University.

If it does work in people, the technique could divide the pro-life movement into those who accept or reject in vitro fertilization, because the objection to deriving human embryonic stem cells would come to rest on creating the embryos in the first place, not on their destruction.

"This gets around all of the ethical arguments except for that small minority of the pro-life community that doesn't even support in vitro fertilization," said Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, Republican of Maryland, whose Web site describes him as "a pro-life legislator." .

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This should be good news for virtually everyone, insofar as virtually everyone appreciates the medical advances that are possible through stem cell research. Removing the harm to human embryos would certainly bring aboard those for whom this is an unacceptable consequence of the research. I doubt that this will have an immediate impact on those who now suffer from debilitating injuries and illnesses, but it does bode well for the future.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
Round 1. PurdueNuc V StrangeLands: Stem Cells
Dealing with embryos: IVF vs. stem cell research
OP/ED: Stem Cell Research - A Medical Goldmine or an Ethical Quagmire?

posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 07:23 PM
I think I read where they have also discovered that the placenta is loaded with useable stem cells. At any rate, the misgivings of some, including our president, seem to be becoming less of an issue.

posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 07:27 PM
This article published in August reports that, indeed, a "type of cell... [that] has characteristics that are strikingly similar to embryonic stem cells in their ability to regenerate a wide variety of tissues..." are present in both the placenta and the umbilical cord.

[edit on 2005/10/16 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 07:30 PM
Good find Grady. Thanks.

...This is a compromise position, IMO - designed to appease the public while meeting the insurance industry's terms.

Stem cells from a variety of sources have been in use for half a century. Most modern diseases result from mutations in the stem cells for connective tissue and smooth muscle. ...Connective tissue stem cells are called "fibroblasts" and research was sufficiently advanced by the 1950's that scientists already were looking at embryonic stem cells. ...Bone marrow transplants for leukemia were the earliest form of stem cell transplantation - perfected by the early 1960's - but the insurance industry fought tooth and nail for decades to avoid providing coverage. IMO - that's the real holdup - all else is smoke and mirrors.


posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 07:35 PM
I heard about the tests regarding skin cell derrived stem cells a few months ago. Very interesting and promising stuff.

Even with both of these new advancements, here's the problem:

The term "stem cell" has become associated with "aborted fetus" by the media coming out of the pro-life organizations. Chances are, these alternatives won't be covered by these same oraganizations. As many people as there are within the American public that will accept anything the media tells them, chances are, they will still never approve the use of stem cells in research, even with these alternative methods, because they'll have never heard of the alternatives.

The only way I can see stem cell research flying with full support from the federal government and most pro-life groups, is in convicing the leaders of such groups that these alternative methods can be useful, and won't harm a fetus. Honestly, I see it being (at least) another ten years of media influence on the general public before these alternatives become known and accepted.

Personally, I think that we should have had massive funding for this research years ago - there is an ample amount of aborted fetuses to draw from, pro-life groups notwithstanding. It's been known for a long time the potential benefits of this research, and as such, should have been pursued in large scale, even before these advancements came about, and even moreso now.

posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 07:42 PM
I think you're misjudging the sophistication of the opposition. While there will always be those who mistrust scientific advances, the opposition to stem cell research has been waning among the general populace. If the methods mentioned in the article work out for humans, there simply would be no reason to destroy embryos to obtain stem cells. Removing that barrier to acceptance would win over the overwhelming majority of the opposition. I believe that the science is more likely to take more time than convincing the bulk of the opposition.

posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 08:07 PM
Guys - really. This whole so-called controversy has been totally engineered by the insurance industry.

Research in cell therapy dates back to the early 1900's - and scientists were well-into research on embryonic stem cells by 1950. By the end of the 1950's - stem cell therapy using bone marrow was so advanced that cryogenic storage facilities were being built all over the place for people to store their young bone marrow for later use - to avoid compatability issues in transplant.

It's the insurance industry that's been fighting this. Every decade or so they drum up some new "controversy" to keep it all on the shelf.


posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 09:20 PM
The stem cell research is one of the most promising for humans all over the world and US is getting behind all of it with their debate about what is right or wrong.

Religious fundamentalist are against research or scientific work and that is the end of it, they don't care from where it comes they are just against of it.

My daughter is now searching the different research's available so she can do her graduate studies.

She attended one on stem cell and what she told me was that the whole idea of been able to work with cells and manipulate them to behave in a particular way was the most incredible thing she has ever seen.

But she knows as do all the Biology students on major Universities that this type of research in the US is not a very good one to go into until the whole fight against pros and cons is over.

The money that is given for the studies is very limited and so control that it takes the excitement out of the whole thing.

Very sad indeed.

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