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  1.  (601.1)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    New stem cell technique is cause for pro-life celebration

    By Tom Rowan

    At long last pro-lifers can savor a victory. And it's not just a victory. It's a stunning, truly historic triumph.

    Acting independently, researchers in Japan and Wiscon-sin have demonstrated that human skin cells can act like embryonic stem cells. They can be transformed into any of the more than 200 cell types of the human body. Just think! An ordinary piece of skin can morph into the cell of a living heart or lung or brain or whatever is needed. The possibilities are limitless.

    We're at the dawn of a revolutionary new era in combating disease. One scientist called it "the biological equivalent of the Wright brothers' first airplane."

    The new technique comes with a long litany of advantages over the use of embryonic stem cells. The main one is that in the new process, no human beings are killed. Accordingly, the moral issues are resolved. Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that at a Vatican-sponsored meeting he attended at which the technique was described, all of the Catholic scientists and ethicists attending "had no problem with it at all."

    The overriding reason that the Church and other pro-life advocates have felt obliged to oppose embryonic stem cell research is that the procedure involves creating human embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them.

    The new procedure also avoids other ethical land mines. For example, women will not be exploited for their eggs. No longer will we have the specter of "egg farms" operated by corporations that would pay women for their eggs.

    Apart from its moral superiority, the breakthrough is rich in strictly scientific advantages. In contrast to embryonic stem cell procedures, it is simple and inexpensive. And since the patient's own skin is used, the danger of cells being rejected by the body is eliminated. And obviously there is never a shortage of the material required (skin, that is) to be morphed into whatever cells a patient needs.

    The heroes of this astonishing achievement are James Thompson of Wisconsin and Shina Yamanaka of Japan.

    They are the scientists who made the historic breakthrough, and their names will be writ large in medical histories, right up there with Louis Pasteur and Madame Curie.

    However, President Bush also deserves some credit. Six years ago he slowed the stampede to use federal funds for a process that destroyed human life. Although he allowed federal money for research on then-existing embryonic stem cell lines, he encouraged the pursuit of alternative methods that would not kill embryos. He approved millions of federal dollars to aid such a search. (Dr. Thompson received some of these funds.)

    The medical breakthrough startled the scientific world. Until it was announced, stem cell research involving embryos was considered sacrosanct. To have misgivings about it was to risk being branded "unscientific" or even stony-hearted toward suffering patients.

    Embryos are not yet out of harm's way. Some scientists who regard them simply as commodities will no doubt continue to kill them for research purposes. But inevitably the time will come when the new alternative will be so overwhelmingly accepted that the earlier procedures involving embryos will be seen as quaint precursors.

    Of course much work lies ahead. Complications and pitfalls must be overcome - and they will be. (The Wright brothers didn't launch a string of international airlines at Kitty Hawk.) It will be years, maybe decades, before the new technique is routinely used to attain previously undreamed-of cures. But that day will come. A start has been made, and human life is the winner. If ever there were a reason for pro-lifers to celebrate, this is it.

    (Tom Rowan is the retired editor of the Catholic Standard.)
    • CommentTimeJan 23rd 2008
    I found an article from a few years back about this on the Washington Post.

    It sounds too good to be true, and I wonder if God's Own Party will try & parlay some bragging rights out of having limited the number of stem cell lines available for research.
    • CommentTimeJan 23rd 2008

    Gotta ask, William Hodge, since you created an account just to post this, couldn't you have sourced something with more facts and less God? Sources are good, science is good, c&p'ing a complete article isn't going to fly.

    Someone else wants to source something from an actual journal, that's great, but I'll be trimming the original post in a minute.
  2.  (601.4)
    The only thing that stops me from being enthusiast about it is that I haven't heard about it anywhere else. Such a brilliant technique should break the media in half (to use a popular metaphor), but the first time I hear about it is a message board?

    Sorry for being so skeptical.
    • CommentTimeJan 23rd 2008
    Wow. Account created and article posted in under a minute.
    • CommentTimeJan 23rd 2008
    Ah, fuck it. This is last year's news, and I don't feel like finding it. Closing because shills annoy me, and there's more interesting stuff out there.