Method Considered Better Than Cloning, Scientifically and Morally
One cannot exaggerate the moral and scientific importance of a breakthrough that allows for research on stem-cell related cures to go forward without destroying human embryos, says the director of a Catholic think tank.
Father Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute, and member of the ethics committee of New York’s Empire State Stem Cell Board, said this about two newly-released scientific papers that report how scientists generated pluripotent stem cells from human skin cells. The method thus avoids the ethical concerns raised by embryo-destructive research.
Both studies used “direct reprogramming” of adult human cells to generate stem cells known as induced pluripotent state cells (iPSCs). These iPSCs have the properties of human embryonic stem cells. Scientists hope cells like these will eventually be able to treat diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s.
And the cells were “patient-matched,” meaning they genetically match the donor. If these types of cells are to be eventually transplanted into the donors, there should be less chance of the body rejecting them.
Father Berg explained: “This tremendous advance puts respect for embryonic human life and potentially life-saving biomedical research on the same plane. Ever since the debate of embryo-destructive stem cell research began in earnest, we’ve known that the best answer to the ethical impasse would be one that allows the search for stem-cell related cures to go foreword without harming or destroying embryonic human life in the process. We now have that solution.”
ZENIT 20th November 2007