More Good News About Stem Cells
Among the key moral issues of our day is the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research. Christians insist that harvesting embryonic stem cells for research purposes is immoral since human embryos must die to achieve the objective. The scientific evidence is overwhelming and decisive: use of embryonic stem cells is completely unnecessary since use of adult stem cells has proven to be the most promising in treating various diseases (see Thompson and Harrub, 2001). Scientists are even now developing methods that allow them to reprogram existing adult stem cells to possess the same unlimited properties as embryonic stem cells. For example, using genetic alteration, a team of UCLA researchers have turned adult skin cells into cells that are nearly identical to human embryonic stem cells (Irwin, 2008). “Reprogramming adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells could generate a potentially limitless source of immune-compatible cells for tissue engineering and transplantation medicine” (“Human Skin...,” 2008), thus benefiting those suffering from diabetes, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, and a host of other ailments. This breakthrough follows closely on the heels of earlier successful research done on mouse models (“Researchers Reprogram...,” 2007).
Similar advances have been occurring all along—apparently escaping the notice of politicians and the liberal establishment that continue their campaign for embryonic stem-cell research (see Miller, 2007). Two separate teams of scientists, one led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and the other team led by Junying Yu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, preceded the UCLA research in discovering a way to turn ordinary human skin cells into stem cells with the same characteristics as those derived from human embryos (Palca, 2007). Northwestern University researchers discovered that adult stem cells derived from bone marrow are capable of undergoing more diverse transformations than previously thought, and could be transformed into a wide variety of tissue types, not just blood cells (“Adult Stem Cells...,” 2006). University of Minnesota researchers showed that adult bone marrow stem cells can be induced specifically to differentiate into cells of the midbrain, which would be useful for treating diseases of the central nervous system, including Parkinson’s disease (“Adult Mouse Bone...,” 2003).
Conclusion? No justification exists for butchering human life on the alleged grounds that medical research to alleviate suffering necessitates it. Destroying human life to preserve human life? Two wrongs do not make a right. Shedding innocent blood is despicable (Proverbs 6:17).
“Adult Mouse Bone Marrow Stem Cells Can Become Cells of the Nervous System” (2003), Science Daily, August 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030819073513.htm.
“Adult Stem Cells Show Wider Potential Than Previously Thought” (2006), Science Daily, September 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060918201025.htm.
“Human Skin Cells Reprogrammed Into Embryonic Stem Cells” (2008), Science Daily, February 12, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211172631.htm.
Irwin, Kim (2008), “Scientists at UCLA Reprogram Human Skin Cells into Embryonic Stem Cells,” UCLA Newsroom, February 11, [On-line], URL: http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/scientists-reprogram- human-skin-44173.aspx.
Miller, Dave (2007), “No Need for Embryonic Stem Cells,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3634.
Palca, Joe (2007), “Scientists Produce Embryonic Stem Cells from Skin,” NPR, November 20, [On-line], URL: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16470482.
“Researchers Reprogram Normal Tissue Cells Into Embryonic Stem Cells” (2007), Science Daily, June 7, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070606235430.htm.
Thompson, Bert and Brad Harrub (2001), “Human Cloning and Stem-Cell Research—Science’s ‘Slippery Slope’ [Parts I, II, & III],” Reason & Revelation, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2877.