New Stem Cell Success Still A Failure?


Dean Esmay points out a story about a new process that pulls the stem cells from an embryo, while still maintaining the integrity of the embryo.

From Globe and Mail:

MEDICAL REPORTER — Two teams of U.S. scientists have found ways to harvest stem cells from embryos without sacrificing a viable life in the process.

If these proof-of-principle experiments, which were conducted in mice, can translate to humans, they might ease the fierce ethical and political storm that surrounds embryonic stem-cell research.

Stem cells from human embryos are considered the key to regenerative medicine. They have the power to multiply indefinitely and grow into all the various tissues that make up a human body. As it stands now, the only way to access these cells is to snatch them from the inner mass of a budding embryo that is destroyed in the process. For those who believe life begins at conception, the method is tantamount to murder.

But scientists at the Massachusetts-based biotech firm Advanced Cell Technology and the University of Wisconsin have now demonstrated that if they pluck a cell from an embryo that is a speck of just eight cells, the embryo can survive to be implanted in a uterus and result in a normal pregnancy.

However, Lindsay Beyerstein (who read this NY Times article about the same thing) points out that there could still be a fatal flaw in this stem cell logic.

What the article doesn’t mention that the ovum will be discarded anyway. If this technique were used to generate human stem cells, the fertilized egg would have to be thrown away. Nobody would want to gestate an ovum after it had been raided for stem cells.

Let’s hope she’s wrong.

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