Friday, August 8, 2008

Ethical Stem Cell Breakthrough

AP reports today that Harvard scientists "have created stem cells for 10 genetic disorders, which will allow researchers to watch the diseases develop in a lab dish."

One of the great promises of embryo-destructive cloning or SCNT (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer) research, beyond "cures, cures, cures," is the potential ability to create disease-specific stem cell lines for the purpose of studying their development and better understanding the disease. (For readers of the Kansas City Star, and nowhere else in the world, the technology is known as 'copying cells in a petri dish'.)

It should surprise no one who has followed the science that these new and valuable stem cell lines which will be shared with scientists throughout the world were not created using SCNT. Not a single stem cell line, much less a cure, has ever been developed using SCNT in humans.

These new stem cell lines were created ethically and without cloning or the destruction of embryos. The Harvard scientists used a new technique called iPSC which coaxes a person's own skin cells to morph into cells essentially like embryonic stem cells without ever creating or destroying an embryo.

Well, no one should be surprised except people who have their understanding of stem cell science from the anachronistically pro-cloning, Stowers-cheerleading Kansas City Star. So the first comment by Claude to the Star's AP version of this story reads:

Quick, Republicans and religious nuts! Call your congressmen and make this illegal! Isn't this playing God? We wouldn't want to give people any hope that their dreaded diseases might be curable through stem cell research."

Another reader quickly corrects the fellow:

"If you would put your own prejudice and name calling down for a minute and actually READ, you would see this just proves what those opposed to embryonic stem cell research have said all along -- there are plenty of alternatives that do not require the taking of a human life."

Confused as he is, Claude is simply repeating a mantra put out by the Star and Stowers-paid spokespersons. He can be easily forgiven for believing that all stem cell research involves embryos and "religious nuts" hate cures, because that's what he's been told.

If Missouri really does want to have some role in the future of stem cell science, it's past time for Missourians to get past the deceptive and political rhetoric of the Amendment 2 sponsors and learn what actual scientists are doing now.