Admittedly, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the threats to life and human dignity these days. We’re no longer talking just about abortion, but also several end of life issues and, of course, embryonic stem cell (ESC) research.
The science has been around for a good 20 years or more, but I’m sure there are quite a few people for whom ESC research is still relatively new and confusing. I encountered a lot of this during a 2006 campaign to make such research a constitutional right here in Missouri. If you’re one of those people or you know someone who could use a crash course in Stem Cell Research 101, I came across a few helpful posts recently:
First, Morgan Witt has an excellent post covering stem cell research basics over at the Live Action blog. Check out: Stem Cell Research: The Basics Types of Research, Medical Status, and Ethical Drawbacks
Also worth checking out: Rebecca Taylor wrote a great post responding to a reader who asked, Why Does the Church Oppose Embryonic Stem Cell Research? The visible head of the Church himself actually addressed this issue recently at an international stem cell conference.
As Morgan explains in her post, there is more than one type of stem cell research. ESCs get the most media attention and hype, but in reality, when it comes to regenerative medicine, adult stem cell (ASC) research is the one moving forward in leaps and bounds. In fact, while ASCs continue to have success in many human trials, last week the first ever human trial for ESCs was cancelled after about a year and the company conducting it has decided to abandon research using ESCs altogether. The Geron corporation cited financial difficulties as the reason for their decision, but many suspect that something must have gone wrong with the trial, or at least that it wasn’t going as well as they had hoped. Whatever the reason, this is, of course, wonderfully welcome news for those of us who oppose cannibalizing tiny human beings for science.
Some, even in the secular world, are wondering if this might finally spell the end of ESC research. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. Research using human embryos is not going to go away completely because of one failed trial. Not only is our Federal Government more than willing to help keep it alive with our tax dollars, but many in the stem cell research field have predicted that the future of ESC research is not going to be in regenerative medicine anyway, but in pharmaceutical testing.
Other helpful links about the Geron news:
All the News That’s Fit to Forget: Why you’re not hearing much about embryonic stem cells these days
How big a blow was Geron’s bombshell that it is bailing on embryonic stem cell research? BIG.
Geron Quits the Embryonic Stem Cell Industry
Silently stealing away