Monday, March 16, 2009

Stem Cell Research, Brave New World

Thanks to the Wikipedia article for the image of a colony of embryonic stem cells, from the H9 cell line

President Obama on Monday, March 9, 2009 authorized government funding to support research on stem cells newly harvested from human embryos.

Embryonic stem cells come from an early stage human embryo called a blastocyst, a stage reached 4 to 5 days after fertilization. Initially there are 50 to 150 individual cells.

Human embryonic stem cells were "discovered" in 1998 by privately funded researchers. In 1999 President Clinton authorized federal funding as long as no human embryos were destroyed. In 2001 President Bush restricted research to existing stem cell lines. President Obama rescinded the previous administration's rules.

President Obama also signed the appropriations bill on March 11 which explicitly bans research that might injure, destroy, or place at risk any human embryos.

Ethically I certainly understand the concern.

I suspect it will open a door best left closed.

3 comments:

Lori1955 said...

Actually I'm a believer in stem cell research as long as no embryos are destroyed. The human body is an amazing thing. The idea that we may be able to repair broken bodies with stem cells is facinating. I hope they can find the cures they are looking for.

flintysooner said...

How about keeping embryos alive in order to harvest the stem cells - stem cell producers?

Or how about having embryos using stem cells to produce various organs such as kidneys and ears and what not?

And in the latter case at what level of disfigurement should the embryo be destroyed?

Or experimenting with embryos to see if it is possible to increase strength or specify attributes or create chimeras?

Human cloning does not necessarily kill or injure an embryo either.

All of these things are being discussed.

~Betsy said...

I'm not comfortable with stem cell research. I truly don't think it will yield the cures they are all hoping for and yet I suspect we will continue down this dangerous path.