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New Hope for Stem Cell Research 466

ExE122 writes "A new scientific breakthrough allows scientists to harvest stem cells without harming the embryo. From the article: ''We have shown that we can not only generate stem cells without destroying the embryo, but that the remaining embryo also has the potential to go to on create a healthy blastocyst' said Dr Lanza, whose team's research is published in Nature. Asked if he expected the advance to satisfy President Bush, Dr Lanza said: 'Well, as you know, the President objects to the fact that you would be sacrificing one life to save another, and in this instance there is no harm to the embryo.''"
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New Hope for Stem Cell Research

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  • Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:30PM (#15965205)
    Pro-life people are generally against cloning. I don't understand the objection if no embryo is destroyed, but it does bring up some difficult issues regarding souls.

    This is similar enough to cloning to trigger the same hostility. I don't really see the difference it will make.

    Not to mention the problem of what to do with the excess embryos after the desired number of offspring has been reached. I don't understand how pro-life POV can accept fertility treatments that generate extra embryos.
    • by wiggles ( 30088 )
      Strict Pro-life people are against IVF as well, because embryos are created and destroyed in the process. They're also against most forms of birth control, cloning, and the death penalty, FYI.

      The interesting thing is that they have set up 'embryo adoption' organizations where willing couples can adopt embryos from IVF couples who are through having kids, but have embryos left over.

      The reason you don't see as much hostility toward birth control and IVF is that they generally place a higher priority on fight
    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:41PM (#15965290)
      I'm pro-life and voted for GW (a minority on /. from the sounds of it), but I for one would be very pleased and happy to vote for this new stem cell research. As long as it is confirmed that the embryos are not being harmed, I am all for this. I don't have an ethical issue with cloning (although I see it as a major problem if the technology was abused ... just take for example several of the movies that have been released about cloning). I would hope that GW would come out supporting this new stem cell research that does not harm the embryo.
    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Informative)

      by ILikeRed ( 141848 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:56PM (#15965415) Journal
      You don't understand the goal. (Most) Scientists do not want to create a clone of an entire person - rather the idea is to clone parts (e.g. organs such as the liver, heart, and lungs) so that people who need a transplant can get a clone of their own heart rather than trying to match something from a dead donor.

      For an interesting perspective on the impact of life and culture in the future without the benefit of cloned organs - try reading some of Larry Nivens works. (I think Limits is the collection with the stories of a detective who goes after black market organ harvesters.)
    • Let me elaborate on the soul issue. There are two basic definitions of a soul, the religious one where it is some bogeyman ghost that floats away to heaven / hell / purgatory, and the rational one where it is the collective description of a being's thoughts / feelings / knowledge / personality.

      The science-based definition is simple. You clone somebody and each has its own soul.

      The religious definition is more complicated. If you clone somebody then it either:
      1) creates a new soul, t
    • by ADRA ( 37398 )
      /religious rhetoric
      In that vein, how can a good christian support blood transfusions and organ transplants since "it does bring up some difficult issues regarding souls". How do Christians define souls these days? When a fertilized egg splits into identical twins, does only one of them have a soul? If so, then when do you draw the line between parents' souls, new soul, and no soul? If I bleed, am I shedding a piece of my soul? If I 'spread my seed on the ground' am I not then loosing a piece of my soul? If
  • Hopefully, this will take the controversy out of this issue.
  • hooray! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aleksiel ( 678251 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:32PM (#15965223)
    now all those banks that have unused, stored embryos can keep them alive until they throw them in the garbage instead of killing them!
  • by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:32PM (#15965225)
    'Well, as you know, the President objects to the fact that you would be sacrificing one life to save another, and in this instance there is no harm to the embryo.'

    I can just see it now. Bush will claim something like, "By sticking to our upstanding morals, we have driven science further than any other generation ever."

    Bush is like a broken path in the Internet. Science will route around him.
    • Bush is like a broken path in the Internet. Science will route around him.
      Except here in the US, we're quickly becoming like an island in the Pacific -- only one trunk comes in or out.
    • Bush will claim something like, "By sticking to our upstanding morals, we have driven science further than any other generation ever."

      I was thinking the exact same thing you were, but not as sarcastic. If this article is true, then I see this as a victory for both parties ... one side gets their science with morals, the other side still gets their science. If this is accepted, what's the problem here?
      • by Gogo0 ( 877020 )
        There doesnt have to be a problem, some people just like to complain about nothing.
        I agree with your thought completely. The science has progressed further because of the "limitation" (that stops no one from doing their own privately-funded research) placed on it, not despite it.
    • by deanj ( 519759 )
      And yet, he's gotten more money for this type of research than any other president. ...Apparently, you forgot that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:34PM (#15965240)
    The US team, led by Dr Robert Lanza, have now shown that a single cell harvested in this way can also be grown in culture to create stem-cell lines.

    I wish folks would stop using that word and find another one. "Harvest" gets a lot of folks riled up and gives them the impression that people are going to be farmed (or whatever) for their parts.

    Yeah, yeah, I know that's not the case, but in this day and age of bumper sticker sound bites, that's all people hear and they don't want to investigate further. They'll just jump to the first two-bit opinion that fits or the opinion that was given to them by a pundit and to hell with the facts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      How about "disenfranchised"?

      Allow me to use the newly redefined word in a sentence: "We disenfranchised a single cell from the embryo to create a stem cell line that will allow us to grow extra nose tissue for Michael Jackson."

  • This is great news!

    Now we can do our research and all the "pre-babies" that would have been destroyed in the process of creating stem cells can instead be thrown in the trash, just as God intended.
  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @04:41PM (#15965288) Journal
    So you extract stem cells from an embryo, and allow the embryo to come to term, so now you have a baby and a stem cell line. The baby grows up. What rights does this person have over the stem cell line? Can they demand (e.g.) that the cells be used only thereputically, not for research? Can they charge a licensing fee to use them?
    • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @05:30PM (#15965712) Homepage Journal
      It's actually straightforward. It's the same as when parents negotiate for a baby to be in a shampoo commercial. Do you get to renegotiate the shampoo commercial contract when you turn 18 and demand all of the shampoo company's profits for the last 18 years?

      The short answer is no.

      The parents (probably even just the mother) of the embryo gets to negotiate away the rights to those cells, and the grown up embryo will have no rights involving those cells excepting those negotiated by the parents.
  • From the article:

    Now a team at Advanced Cell Technology - a private company - has found that it is possible to create human stem cells using one or two cells from an early embryo, without doing any damage to the embryo.

    If you split cells off of an early embryo, aren't they also viable embryos in their own right? Isn't this what creates identical twins?

    I expect the Bush administration to object to this technique on the basis that each separate cell bundle from the embryo is an "individual".

    • Then we're killing thousands of ourselves everyday. Won't someone think of the skin cells?!?
    • If you split cells off of an early embryo, aren't they also viable embryos in their own right? Isn't this what creates identical twins?

      The whole pro-life religious argument is that fertilization creates a soul. By this argument, all identical siblings are either possess only a fraction of a soul or God has given the additonal natural clones a bonus soul. The latter is the acceptable choice since sharing souls doesn't fit the afterlife scenario very well. Human interference is the key factor (e.g. ta

  • First of all I do object to embryonic stem cell research when an embryo is destroyed. I know the first argument to such a position and in fact it is quoted in the article.

    "I am also unconvinced by the ethical arguments. Spare IVF embryos used to derive stem cell lines would have been destroyed anyway."

    The problem that people do not understand derives itself from the form of IVF used and has existed as a moral and ethical dilemna way before stem cell research was popular. Since IVF is a relatively new proc

  • Harming the Embryo is half the fun of Stem Cell Research!
  • Can we start harvesting skin grafts from coma patients now too?

    This might (or might not, depending on risk) eliminate the "murder" question, but it certainly isn't a morally unambiguous practice.


    PS: I'm an athiest.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!