A new research breakthrough was announced last month. With it comes another sign that embryonic stem cell research is a dead-end street.
Stem cell research concerns itself with generating new, healthy tissue to replace damaged tissue as a result of injury (such as spinal cord trauma) or illness (Parkinson’s disease). Stem cells are called undifferentiated in that they are neither bone nor skin nor blood nor other kinds of tissues, but they develop into these types, for instance when an embryo develops into all the varied cells and tissues of a fetus.
Research studies how to coax stem cells derived from adult cells such as skin or bone, or from embryos into the damaged cells one wishes to replace. Stem cells derived from adult tissues such as one’s own skin or muscle pose no ethical concerns.
Stem cells from embryos require the destruction of that embryo. With the understanding that the human embryo like the fully formed person has God-given life and dignity, its destruction must always be opposed, regardless of the reputed benefits.
The breakthrough by Chinese scientists confirms that at least in mice, adult stem cells in connective tissue can be induced to an earlier cellular state; in this case, pluripotent, or able to become many different cell types. Thus cells with the properties of embryonic stem cells may be induced to create new, healthy tissue to treat illnesses and injuries without destroying an embryo to do it.
Of course, it remains a big “if” as to whether human adult stem cells will react as do those of mice. More research is needed on this point. And the procedure should never be used to develop a human person through cloning, to which most ethicists and Catholic teaching strongly object.
Already, adult stem cells have been used to treat a variety of medical conditions. The new research adds strong evidence that stem cells can be coaxed from adult tissue and treat many more, without ethical objection.
It shows the dangerous folly of embryonic stem cell research, which over the last five years has lured commitments of billions of dollars in funding by a dozen states, though thankfully some of them have restricted research to adult stem cells.
The research increasingly looks to be outdated. The benefits of stem cells from adults are clearly helping heal people, whereas cells from embryos are curing no one, despite all the money and state initiatives.
Science is outpacing politics, so it is time for politicians to put aside the dubious flirtation with embryonic stem cell research. Science can help heal people without destroying their developing, defenseless brothers and sisters.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Share this story