Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Running Out Of Excuses

Tom Strode of Baptist Press has written an interesting article on new developments in stem cell research that are progressing toward making embryonic stem cell research as outdated as it is barbaric. Stem cells are important in research because they can develop into many kinds of cells throughout the body (to make it simple, its as if you have a multi-purpose cell just waiting for orders to become whatever it is ordered to be).

Adult stem cells have always shown hope and have been used in the past to treat a variety of diseases. Scientists, however, have argued that compared with adult stem cells which are said to be multi-potent (can develop into most cells), embryonic stem cells are pluripotent meaning they can develop into any of the cells of the body.

Thus far, embryonic stem cells have not created the "miracle" cures that were promised by scientists and politicians. However, recent research has developed a method for reprogramming adult stem cells to take on the pluripotent properties of embryonic stem cells, thus eliminating "the ethical issue of stem cells" without eliminating the research potential. Even cloning pioneer Ian Wilmut startled the scientific world by announcing he had abandoned research, or therapeutic, cloning in favor of the reprogramming method in November.

This new research should be significant in political policy of the United States. We wait to see if our government will embrace this new research or continue to defend the unneccessary and barbaric act of embryonic stem cell research. Let me suggest that if our government does not embrace the new methods, then their political ambitions will be laid bare for the world to see.

As I have argued elsewhere (Hopes Falsely Tied To Embryonic Stem Cell Research), the push for embryonic stem cell research in politics and the media has more to do with the abortion issue and the devaluation of human life than with any potential research breakthroughs. This has already been evident in the largely ignored Wake Forest study that showed promise for using amniotic fluid which would pose less risk to human life and yield the same cells sought after in stem cell research.

Read Strode's full article, Is Embryonic Stem Cell Research Obsolete for more information on this important issue.

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