Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Embryo-safe stem cells

A biotech company has come up with a way to create embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos.

The new method works by taking an embryo at a very early stage of development and removing a single cell, which can be coaxed into spawning an embryonic stem cell line. With only one cell removed, the rest of the embryo retains its full potential for development. (Associated Press)

But, as with many compromises, people at both ends of the debate are unhappy.

Some stem cell researchers complain that the new approach, though it may hold future promise, simply isn't as efficient as their current method of creating stem cells. [...] Meanwhile, hard-line opponents of stem cell science argue that the technique solves nothing, because even the single cell removed by the new approach could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human.

Maybe this is my ignorance talking, but I thought the main objection against embryonic stem cells was that their creation involved the destruction of embryos. Surely a non-destructive technique is far better than what we have currently?

One can certainly argue that these embryos shouldn't exist to begin with and that there are unethical aspects to the fertility business. But that's a different discussion.

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