Thursday, May 19, 2005

Scientists Speed Creation of Stem Cells

As I read this, I keep hearing the voice of the mathematician in Jurassic Park saying that because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it. Not to mention the production line mentality that smacks of Huxley's horror.

South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match for injured or sick patients.

It is a major advancement in the quest to grow patients' own replacement tissue to treat diseases.

The same scientists last year were the first to clone a human embryo. Now they have improved, by more than tenfold, their efficiency at culling these master cells, thus making pursuit of therapeutic cloning more practical.

"I didn't think they would be at this stage for decades, let alone within a year," said Dr. Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh. He acted as an adviser to the Korean lab in analyzing its data, which was being published Friday in the journal Science.

"This paper will be of major impact," said stem-cell researcher Dr. Rudolph Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass. "The argument that it will not work in humans will not be tenable after this."

This research is not cloning to make babies. Instead, scientists create test-tube embryos to supply stem cells - the building blocks which give rise to every tissue in the body - that are a genetic match for a particular patient and thus won't be rejected by the immune system.

The cloning isn't to make babies? Gee, isn't that comforting? Why is that we can export the false gospel of Prosperity, but we can't export our alleged ethical qualms on embryonic stem cell research?

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