The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Adult Stem-Cell Research Takes a Hit

Posted by thelamp on March 17, 2007

The latest news about the research potential of adult stem cells is disappointing, but it doesn’t diminish the moral objections for the alternative sacrificing life through human embryonic stem-cell research.

Click here to urge Congress to fund ethical medical research.

A scientific panel is questioning the 2002 study that suggested adult stem cells might be as useful as human embryonic ones was flawed, and its conclusions may be wrong. This new perspective raises questions on two fronts.

For scientists, bone marrow as a potential source for stem cells is less promising. For Christians, the possibility of advancing medical cures through ethical research is diminished. This setback, however, must not become an excuse for forsaking like through the expansion of experimentation on human embryos.

Five years ago, research by Catherine Verfaillie at the University of Minnesota concluded that stem cells taken from the bone marrow of mice could grow into an array of biological tissues, including the brain, heart, lung and liver (click here to read the original research findings). Currently, only human embryonic stem cells are known to hold such regenerative capability. The scientist acknowledged flaws in parts of the study after inquiries from the British publication New Scientist, which publicized its qualms with the research in its Feb. 15 edition (click here to read the article).

A panel of experts commissioned by the university determined that the process used to identify tissue derived from the adult stem cells was “significantly flawed, and that the interpretations based on these data, expressed in the manuscript, are potentially incorrect.” The panel also noted that the error was attributed to mistakes, not falsifications.

Since Verfaillie’s study was published in 2002, other researchers have been unable to duplicate her results.

The scientific community is now wrestling with the overall impact this new information will have. CMC members should pray that scientists will return to the lab and continue fine tuning their work with adult stem cells. For some, the easy answer is to put the effort into embryonic stem-cell research.

Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.

Certainly, Christians share the broader culture’s desire to treat people ailing with diseases and other conditions. No one would argue against improving the quality of life. In the case of embryonic stem-cell research, though, the ends do not justify the means. Bible believers must use their voice to call for moving forward without destroying embryos which, of course, are people.

The sanctity of life is not doled out in stages. It’s all inclusive from the moment of conception.

Experimenting with adult stem cells is not the only means of ethical medical research. This week, members of the medical community will conduct a Capitol Hill briefing on the use of cord blood to treat disease and disability and to call for full funding of the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) program in the 2008 budget.

Three years ago Congress created the first national inventory to collect the needed units of blood and make them readily available. The legislation authorized collection of 150,000 units of cord blood, with a focus on genetic diversity that is expected to meet the needs of 90 percent of all patients. These units will be made available through an open registry that will link public cord blood banks nationwide to simplify a physician’s search for a blood match.

CMC applauds and encourages such medical advances.



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