Definitions impede stem cell research

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Wed Sep 24 13:09:39 PDT 2003


If you didn't already believe that the current policy is purely and 
ideologically anti-science and anti-progress (rather than an extreme 
instantiation of a more benign, rational set of legitimate concerns) 
perhaps this will lend some weight to that POV:

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	http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,60546,00.html

  The medical promise of embryonic stem-cell research has been plagued 
by ethical controversy. Now, an apparent way to get stem cells without 
destroying human embryos is hung up by federal policy.

A group of researchers from Michigan State University, Wake Forest 
University's School of Medicine and a handful of other universities 
manipulated primate egg cells, tricking them into behaving as if they 
had been inseminated. The process resulted not in an embryo, but a 
bundle of cells similar to a pre-embryo, although the cells could never 
survive even if implanted in the primate's womb.

In the study, published in the Sept. 22 online issue of the Proceedings 
of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers extracted that 
bundle's inner cell mass to derive stem cells, which are master cells 
that can become any type of cell in the human body. They then coaxed 
the cells into becoming two types of neurons, smooth muscle and beating 
cilia, tiny hair-like extensions that line the airways. They hope their 
work is a precursor to doing the same with human cells to create 
disease therapies.

But the federal government places this technique, called 
parthenogenesis, on its list of the types of stem-cell research banned 
from federal funding, saying the bundle of cells is the same as an 
embryo. Researchers say this will significantly slow progress toward 
medical treatments.

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jb



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