Friday, August 26, 2005

Skin cell "dedifferentiation"??

A kind reader sent a link to the following WaPo article about the skin cell "reprogramming" success from earlier in the week. (Even extremists take vacations with their families and get behind on the news...nonetheless, better late than never.)

Scientists for the first time have turned ordinary skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells -- without having to use human eggs or make new human embryos in the process, as has always been required in the past, a Harvard research team announced yesterday.

The technique uses laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells -- such as the ones that President Bush has already approved for use by federally funded researchers -- to "reprogram" the genes in a person's skin cell, turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell itself.

Hmm. Did you catch that last part? Laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells...cells that were once from a real live embryo. Cells that were removed from said embryo causing said embryo's death. But I'll let Steven Milloy from Junk Science make the point:

"Regardless of all the "ifs", there are two fatal problems with this train of thought.

First, the creation of the hybrid cells requires embryonic stem cells and, to date, the only technique for obtaining embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of embryos.

Next, although some researchers have speculated about the possibility of extracting embryonic stem cells from embryos in a nondestructive manner, this is an unproven idea that will take many years to research. Moreover, researching the idea will require experimentation on live embryos that will likely be just as ethically and morally controversial as embryonic stem cell research itself."

I'm no moral theologian, but I'm pretty sure that use of this technique would fall under the material cooperation with evil quadrant - whether passive, or remote, I don't know.

But the use of the "approved" embryonic stem cells would be morally tainted in much the same way that some vaccines in common use today are also tainted.