I have been teaching all day, away from the internet, and this amazing development took my breath away when John Gibson announced it on his radio program tonight. He gave President Bush credit for steering money to Adult Stem Cell research, which ultimately led to this breakthrough. I give Pope John Paul II credit, as George Bush went to him for advice before his August 2001 decision not to allow federal funds for more embryo-destructive stem cell research. He wasn't completely in line with Catholic teaching in that he allowed existing stem cell lines to be funded, but he has taken a lot of heat for his stand against embryonic stem cell research, even from his own party, and deserves some credit. Here'a an article from the Family Research Council.
No Embryos, No Cloning, No Eggs--No Problem!
Two prominent embryonic stem cell scientists today published results showing that they can produce cells with the qualities of embryonic stem cells directly from human skin cells, without the need for creating or destroying embryos, without cloning, and without the need for eggs used in cloning. The groundbreaking news by Dr. James Thomson, first to grow human embryonic stem cells, and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Japan, was that they produced what are called "iPS" cells (induced Pluripotent Stem cells) using a simple recipe that involved adding four genetic factors to a human skin cell. When comparing these new cells with existing embryonic stem cells, Thomson noted that iPS cells "meet the defining criteria" for embryonic stem cells "with the significant exception that the iPS cells are not derived from embryos." Yamanaka and Thomson are to be congratulated for pushing forward the frontiers of science and demonstrating that good science can also satisfy ethical requirements. Coupled with the recent announcement by Dr. Ian Wilmut, cloner of Dolly the sheep, that he is shelving cloning as an unproductive technique in favor of this new ethical method, dubious experiments involving embryo cloning and embryo destruction are being rendered obsolete. Scientists can now work with "embryonic-like" stem cells without ethical concerns, while for patients the adult and cord blood stem cells continue to treat thousands of patients now. Congress should move swiftly to ban all human cloning by passing the Brownback-Weldon human cloning prohibition.