Posts Tagged ‘embryonic stem cells’

Funding for adult stem cell research increasing, report finds

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2013 / 04:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A recent report has found that research on ethically-sourced adult stem cells is rising in popularity, leaving advocates pointing to its advantages – in both ethics and outcome – over embryonic stem-cell research.

The views of the scientific community are shifting with the realization that “the best hope for rapid medical advances lies with morally unproblematic alternatives,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, to the Washington Times for a Dec. 3 article.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute is the research branch of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. Recent reports by the institute have shown significant shifts in research funding from embryonic stem cells to more successful and ethically acceptable adult stem cells.

“Money also talks,” said one of the two reports detailing the changes in funding, adding that “what the money is saying is that those viable alternatives exist and it is with them that the real therapeutic promise of regenerative medicine lies.”

Stem cell research has been the source of much controversy, both over its potential for regenerative and potentially life-saving therapies, and over the ethical questions in how the cells are obtained.

Stem cells taken from human embryos require the destruction of new human life. In the past, researchers have advocated their use because they have the potential to grow into nearly any type of tissue, making them a kind of “master cell.”

However, in clinical trials and treatments, it has been difficult to coax the cells to turn into a specific type of tissue. In addition, therapies relying on embryonic stem cells have shown a tendency to turn into tumors and cancers following treatment.

In contrast, adult stem cells come from a variety of tissues found in newborns and adults, including the placenta, umbilical cord, bone marrow and other bodily tissues. Their extraction does not require the destruction of a human life.

While they naturally grow into a more narrow set of tissues than embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have also been induced to form other kinds of tissues outside of their natural range. In some cases, the stem cells can also be harvested from the patient himself, nearly eliminating the chance of the body’s rejection of the treatment.

To date, embryonic stem cells have failed to yield any successful treatments, while adult stem cells have been used to treat more than 100 diseases and conditions.
Amid concerns over the ethics of stem cell sourcing, President George W. Bush in 2001 restricted federal funding of embryonic stem cell research to cell lines that already existed.  

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research in California reacted with a voter initiative pledging $3 billion in funding over 10 years only to research on embryonic stem cells, to be distributed through grants by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

By 2012, however, funding at the institute had shifted, with a majority of grants – totaling $50 million – going towards research on non-embryonic stem cell projects and only $19 million in funding awarded to embryonic research.

A similar shift in funding has taken place at Maryland’s Stem Cell Research Commission, according to a Lozier Institute report from October. In 2007, the organization funded 11 embryonic stem cell research projects and four non-embryonic ones. Now, it is supporting one embryonic stem cell project and 28 non-embryonic ones.

Grants in Maryland “can also serve as an important bellwether for the direction stem cell research is taking,” the report added, “given that the state is home to one of the nation’s most prominent sites for stem cell research, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.”

Dr. David Prentice, senior fellow for the Family Research Council and a researcher in cell biology, stated that researchers were told for years “that embryonic stem cells were the ‘only’ stem cells for treatment as well as lab research.”

“But even in states previously devoted exclusively to embryonic stem cell and cloning research, the majority of grants now are going to ethical, successful adult stem cell studies,” he commented in a statement.

“This latest news simply emphasizes what advocates of ethical stem cell research have said for years - adult stem cells are the true gold standard for stem cells. They are certainly golden for patients; more than 60,000 people a year around the world are currently treated with adult stem cells.”

Adult stem calls research has shown “tremendous progress,” while embryonic stem cell research “relies on the destruction of young human life” and has had limited success, Prentice observed.

This offers a clear choice to researchers and investors who are looking for results, he said. “Adult stem cells save lives.”
 

Famous singer unfortunately misunderstands and misrepresents effectiveness of embryonic stem cells

by Dave Andrusko A few years back when actor Michael J. Fox made a number of ill-informed comments about the “promise” of embryonic stem cells, it was impossible not to cut him some slack. He suffers from Parkinson’s disease and it was only human nature on his part to buy into the PR that somehow embryonic…

Diocese bans Catholic school trips to center where students could ‘handle’ embryonic stem cells

by Ben Johnson MADISON, WI, September 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic schoolchildren will no longer take field trips to a center that conducts embryonic stem cell research and gives students the opportunity to handle the aborted cells, the Diocese of Madison has announced in a letter. Instead Catholic…

Scientists announce they obtained cells from cloned embryos: nobody knows what the purpose is

by John Stonestreet May 31, 2013 (Breakpoint.org) - Earlier this month, a group of scientists at Oregon Health Sciences University surprised many of their colleagues when they announced that they had obtained embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos. The surprise was not so much at the fact that they had succeeded as it…

Embryonic stem cells from cloned human embryos – six reasons for caution

by Peter Saunders May 21, 2013 (PJSaunders) - The newspapers are full this week of the news that scientists in the US state of Oregon have produced embryonic stem cells (ESCs) using the same cloning technology (somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)) that created Dolly the sheep. The original paper was published in the…

Cloning shows science must dialogue with philosophy

Portland, Ore., May 21, 2013 / 04:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The recent production of stem cells from cloned human embryos has prompted a researcher to consider the need for scientists to take other disciplines into account before engaging their work.

“Scientists…do not consider bio-ethical issues to be issues at all; they don’t see the bio-ethical argument, or any philosophical argument,” Massimo Bionaz, assistant professor of animal sciences at Oregon State University, told CNA May 17.

The May issue of the journal “Cell” included a paper from scientists at Oregon Health and Science University announcing they have produced embryonic stem cells by transferring the DNA of a human skin cell into a human egg to produce an embryo.

After the egg’s own nucleus was removed, the nucleus from another person’s skin cell was added into the egg, and with electricity and caffeine the researchers were able to induce the normal development of an embryo. The embryos were thus genetic copies – clones – of the persons whose DNA was inserted into the eggs.

The harvesting of the embryonic stem cells necessarily included the destruction of the embryos.

“This,” Bionaz reflected, “is the problem. Those scientists, they went ahead and did the cloning; they thought this was absolutely fine and justified because based on their criteria there was no reason not to do that. So, they jump completely the question of what a human is.”

Bionaz, a member of the Euresis Association as well as the Catholic ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation, said that scientific researchers often see arguments of philosophy or bioethics as “problems to be overcome.”

He warned of “scientism,” which he called the “presumption that science is the only discipline which can say something true about reality.” This, Bionaz emphasized, is “dangerous.”

For scientism, “any argument outside the utilitarian argument” is seen as being “of no use.” Too many, he said, view that “whenever something is possible to do, I ought to do it.”

While the aim of the research was good: to produce stem cells for therapies to treat diseases which will not be rejected by patients’ bodies because they will be genetically identical, it required an evil, the destruction of human beings.

“It’s the paradox of the short sight of science. They begin in this way, with the justification of providing tissue, maybe even life-saving tissue, but they don’t care about destroying” another human being, said Bionaz.

Aside from lacking “a clear bio-ethical judgement,” he said, “those scientists didn’t even ask the question.”

Rather than presuming to do any research which is “possible, technically, to do,” researchers should take the time to ask ontological questions, about the nature of the human being.

“It goes to the point of understanding what a person is, of what is a human being.”

While noting that scientists “are trained very well on the technical side,” they “lack completely the way of thinking of the philosopher, or bio-ethicist, or any other discipline,” Bionaz said.

He emphasized the importance of different fields of study working together to paint a complete picture of existence.

“Reality is very complex, and every aspect of reality requires its own discipline. It’s against reason to try to study or assess a reality with a discipline that does not conform to the method of that specific reality.”

“Science can study the material phenomenon, what it is possible to reproduce, to measure.” But, Bionaz added, science cannot address “the ontological significance of a human life…because it’s not the proper discipline for that area of reality.”

“That pertains to philosophy, to theology, even to bioethics in some way.”

Without the perspectives of these fields, science will regard the human person as “only a mass of cells to which you can do whatever you want,” which is why respect for the human person “now is falling apart.”

The researchers who produced the cloned human embryos “want to provide tissue to help or to save a human being,” but they “didn’t consider the significance of what they were doing.”

Bionaz attributed his thought about the importance of considering philosophy and other disciplines when doing scientific research to Blessed John Henry Newman’s “The Idea of a University.”

In those lectures, Newman “described exactly” the follies of using the wrong discipline to study a given segment of existence, and that when this happens “reality can get confused, and we misunderstand it.”

“For instance this one of the human being: to understand what is a human person, you need several disciplines,” Bionaz said. “Science is not enough; it allows you to unravel a part of the human being of course, but not the totality of the human being.”

“For this reason, it is so important as scientists to have the humility to understand our limits, and we should actually have deep discussions with people of other disciplines.”

Dialogue with philosophy, he said, will remind researchers that “the human being has a value, and then we scientists will work for the human being, not against it.”

The manufacture and subsequent destruction of a human embryo for the production of embryonic stem cells, is an instance of “destroying the human being and not helping him.”

“Even though the purpose is to help someone else, because of course the idea is to help human beings, the problem is if the end justifies the means,” Bionaz concluded.

“It’s not an issue that scientists can assess. You need a bio-ethicist together with a philosopher.”

Cardinal ‘deeply’ troubled by human cloning development

Boston, Mass., May 15, 2013 / 02:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley called the successful production of embryonic stem cells by cloning human embryos an “abuse” which ignores the dignity and value of the human person.

“The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels,” the archbishop of Boston, who chairs U.S. bishops’ pro-life activities committee, said May 15.

“Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life.”

The May issue of the journal “Cell” included a paper from scientists at Oregon Health and Science University announcing they have produced embryonic stem cells by transferring the DNA of human skin cells into human eggs to produce embryos.

The aim of the research is to produce stem cells for therapies to treat diseases which will not be rejected by patients’ bodies, because they will be genetically identical.

Such cloning has been done before in mice and monkeys, but this is the first time human embryos have been successfully grown past an eight-cell stage from cloned cells.

The eggs were derived from women who were “financially compensated for the time, effort, discomfort, and inconvenience associated with the donation process.” They were given hormones to induce ovulation and to facilitate the retrieval of their eggs.

After the nucleus was removed from the eggs, genes from other person’s skin cells was added into the eggs, and with electricity and caffeine, the researchers were able to induce embryos to grow. The embryos were thus genetic copies – clones – of the persons whose DNA was inserted into the eggs.

The stem cells from these embryos, which were destroyed in the process, were shown to be pluripotent – able to develop into many different kinds of cells.

“Over 120 human embryos were created and destroyed, to produce six embryonic stem cell lines. Creating the embryos involved subjecting healthy women to procedures that put their health and fertility at risk,” Cardinal O’Malley stated.

He pointed out that the stated goal of the research, producing genetically matched stem cells for therapies, “is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose these grave moral wrongs.”

Adult stem cells, which do not prose the same ethical concerns as human embryonic stem cells, are already being used to treat and cure diseases, making it unnecessary to do such research on human embryonic stem cells.

These adult stem cells are taken from a person’s existing stem cells or from the placenta or umbilical cord at birth. They can also be found throughout the body in all human tissues, including bone marrow, fat, and teeth.

Cardinal O’Malley said that the techniques of the new cloning research “will be taken up by those who want to produce cloned children as ‘copies’ of other people.”

The study’s head, Shoukhrat Mitalipov, has said that the technique will not be used to produce babies because they have not been able to do so with monkey embryos made in the same way.

He also dismissed ethical concerns about the embryos they had made, saying they aren’t the equivalent of a human being because they were not fertilized naturally, according to NPR.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, said the researchers “created many human embryos, male and female, and allowed them to grow for up to seven days, for the sole purpose of killing them and harvesting their stem cells.”

Cardinal O’Malley concluded his statement by saying that “whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes. It is inconsistent with our moral responsibility to treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity.”

Future Seen as Uncertain With Announcement of Cloned Embryos

Scientists in Oregon announced today that they had created cloned human embryos, and then destroyed the embryos to extract embryonic stem cells. The cloning technique is essentially the same one used to create Dolly the cloned sheep, with some modific…

Top researcher: iPS cells ‘probably’ already embryos, have already made cloned animals

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent VATICAN CITY, April 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the top researchers in the field of stem cells has said that iPS (induced pluripotent) stem cells, the “embryo-like” cells hailed by many as the answer to the ethical problems presented by embryonic stem cells, are “probably”…

Federal funding of embryonic stem cells to continue after Supreme Court declines case

by Ben Johnson WASHINGTON, D.C., January 9, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Obama administration will continue funding research that destroys human embryos, after the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the policy on Monday. That decision lets stand a decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.,…

Hide me
Sign up below to have the hottest Catholic news delivered to your email daily!
Enter your email address:
Show me