Yesterday Wesley J. Smith announced
that their would be big stem-cell
news tomorrow and boy was he right.
Two different scientific teams have
“reprogrammed” skin and other adult
cells and reverted them back to a pluripotent stem cell state. (The
altered cells are being called “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells” or
iPS.) One of the researchers was James Thomson–the Wisconsin scientist
who first derived human stem cell lines. As he wrote in SCIENCE (no
The human iPS cells described here meet
the defining criteria we originally proposed for human ES cells, with
the significant exception that the iPS cells are not derived from
You would hope that if this truly bears
out that it will finally put the ethical problems of using embryonic
stem-cells behind us. But then again the whole debate was
always more about ethics than it was about science in the first place.
Culture of death advocates were more thrilled at the idea
trying to define human life down then they were about cures in the
first place. During the debate they managed to move the goal
line of pregnancy from conception to implantation for their purposes.
This was quite hypocritical considering that they really
think that human life begins at birth. You get the feeling
ESCR advocates might feel about this story the way many Democrats do to
good news in Iraq.
Though this will turn the debate on
it’s head in the first place. Previously most pro-lifers
would use the fact that ESCR has resulted in zero cures while
adult stem-cells are being used in multiple treatments. I
always wished that it had been the immorality of using human life for
experimentation that should have been the primary and foremost
argument. The other argument is quite secondary and not
really focused on the real problem. Though it could be a
useful argument for those who don’t clearly see the beginning of human
life. Now with the development of having pluripotent
stem-cells from an ethical source this argument will certainly fall out
of disuse. Though of course we still have no real idea of
when if ever these cells will be of practical use. Just how many states
will now rush to fund this new type of research? Will
government leaders now be telling their citizens that they must fund
this or else they we will fall into scientific backwaters as they did
It was good to see the inventor of
cloning give up and turn to more promising methods.
Previously the research was focused into two area.
Human cloning to develop the embryonic cells that would match
the person to be cured and then going on to use these cells to develop
cures. What has just happened is that one area was eliminated
where now more time, and energy could be devoted to the other
problem. So many lies were told by so many to develop
so-called reproductive human cloning and again they turned mainly
towards rhetoric and not science to make their case. They
never wanted to mention that without human cloning ESCR up to that
point had been a dead end that was more likely to result in tumors than
cures. That these cures required human cannibalism of our own
clones to be effective.
The reality is of course that ESCR
promoters will continue to promote it and say that we must continue
this research. Even if more evidence shows that the new
technique is equal to stem-cells acquired by human embryo’s I doubt if
it will curtail their advocacy. Once again it will be back to
fighting within the public sphere as to whether we can
finally shut down this human sacrifice on the altars of science.