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Stem Cells: August 27, 2008

A Victory for Stem Cell Researchers

Controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells has consumed an elicit amount of time and unethical research in this area has been unabashedly promoted on the basis of hype and ill-formed promises. An amazing breakthrough involving adult stems cells ought to silence those in favor of harvesting cells from early humans:

Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research.

[snip]

The experiments, detailed online yesterday in the journal Nature, raise the prospect that patients suffering from not only diabetes but also heart disease, strokes and many other ailments could eventually have some of their cells reprogrammed to cure their afflictions without the need for drugs, transplants or other therapies.

Despite the long road ahead prior to human application, the new technology is a remarkable achievement and the researchers ought to be congratulated.

Earlier this year, ESCR received (another) fatal blow by published research which concluded that human embryonic stem cells are rapidly rejected by the immune system. Of course, the FDA has yet to approve any clinical trial with embryonic stem cells because these cells (whether growing or even pre-differentiated) have a nasty tendency to form cancerous tumors (FRC Blog).

Unfortunately, the technological failures and identification of a replacement for ESCR doesn't resolve the clash of worldviews and moral standards that remain at the heart of the issue.

Individuals and societies who are involved in and support ESCR view themselves as moral because their actions follow from an ethical standard that both justifies and motivates their decisions. In fact, the humanistic ethic that enables the murder of the unborn or the diseased, when pressed, will find little support in the absolute sense for the sanctity of human life that is not unborn or diseased because such sacredness can only be persuasive when derived from a transcended source (God).

Rejection of God means the acceptance of something else, some other ultimate authority or purpose from which standards for right and wrong are derived. This active replacement of Christian ethics with principles upon which ESCR is justified has practical consequences and will lead nations to progressively adopt increasingly oppressive practices that target the weak and defenseless based upon their utilitarian value to others.

Posted by tim at August 27, 2008 7:46 PM




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