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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

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"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Monday, October 17, 2005

Non-destructive stem cell breakthrough?

A recent report seems to indicate that embryonic stem cells can be harvested without destroying the embryo.

Stem cell breakthrough opens way to ‘spare part’ tissue banks

STEM cells have for the first time been harvested from embryos without killing them, using a technique that could eventually provide children with a personal store of spare part tissue for treating diseases later in life.

While this has only been tested in mice, it would seem that this might free us from the morally reprehensible act of destroying embryos for our own benefit.

It also promises to address one of the strongest ethical objections to embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The cells have great medical potential as they can form any type of tissue in the human body, but their use is opposed by religious groups, as they can be extracted only by destroying embryos.

If the new procedure, tested so far only on mice, also works in human beings, it would allow researchers to obtain ES cells from embryos that remain intact and could go on to become children.

Unfortunately, it appears that this technique is using embryos derived from IVF. The IVF procedure itself has created moral problems due to creating many more embryos than needed for one couple, to serve as backups so to speak. This then leaves a number frozen and with the morally vapid hyping of the supposed promise of embryonic stem cells, many are tempted to think we should at least use them to heal. Sadly, they put aside the moral issues of creating life for experimentation or the fact that adult stem cells are already being used in treatments.

The embryos from which the cells were removed were then implanted back into the wombs of mice. Of 47 such embryos transferred, 23, or 49 per cent, developed into healthy pups. The success rate was essentially the same as a control group of normal mouse embryos, which thrived 51 per cent of the time.

So, even if this procedure works on humans, we will still have excess embryos created and some will be lost. Let us not rush so quickly in an attempt to relieve our fear of death or satisfy our vanity, which heaps scorn upon misshapen limbs and handicaps. We think we may be willing to pay any price to avoid death and disfigurement for ourselves, but we may find, much to late, that the price was much higher than we anticipated.

Related posts:
Another potential stem cell source
What Kool-Aid do GOP Senators drink?
Embryonic stem cells - Narcissism unleashed
Stem cell research
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