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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ethical ways (?) to produce embryonic stem cells

I have already posted for the day, but this was too hot to pass up, and, besides, the main link may expire. That link is to an article in NewScientist, on two ways that might by-pass objections to embryonic stem cell research, but still use embryonic stem cells. Both original research articles were published in Nature, which is not freely available. Nature has published a commentary on this research, which is available.

The first method is simply to take one of the cells of an eight-celled embryo and use it, but let the remaining, now seven-celled, embryo be implanted and develop. The article says that, when tried in mice, the birth rate of pups from seven-celled embryos was the same as for eight-celled ones. If the same is true of humans, this means that a cell from an early embryo could be harvested, then used to produce embryonic stem cells, but that that early embryo could still be implanted and develop. See the first link above for a brief discussion of research in humans.

The second method is one I have previously reported on, known as ANT. At least some conservative Roman Catholics are not troubled by this possibility (see previous post and comments to it).

Probably the most interesting part of the article in NewScientist is this quote from Arthur Caplan: ". . . this terminology undermines the moral stance of scientists pursuing the other techniques,” says Arthur Caplan of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “If you hint that it might solve the moral dispute, you’re providing ammunition for opponents, so it’s essential to back the original stance . . ." In other words, Caplan, perhaps the most prominent U. S. bioethicist, seems more concerned with "sticking to his guns" than with a possible way to satisfy ethical concerns.

This post will make up for a coming travel hiatus.


Catez said...

Interesting Martin. Lanza's technique appears ok but has drawbacks on matching and the IVF connection I think. I've featured your post at BlogWatch.

Catez said...

I've revised my view on matching, and here's my trackback from Allthings2all:
New Techniques for Producing Embryonic Stem Cells Without Destroying Embryos

It's groundbreaking science. Two different laboratories have published techniques for producing embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, in Nature science journal (not available online without subscription). One technique doesn't destroy embryos, but the other method does in a way...