Do we have a cure for the stem cell
debate? Scientists, religious authorities and the president think so
By Mike Fak
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[June 12, 2008]
It could be one of the most important medical
findings in history. A report filed last fall by Wisconsin and
Japanese scientists states that they have found a way to create stem
cells out of ordinary skin cells.
For the past decade many researchers have believed that stem cell
research is the solution in the war against physical and mental
afflictions. However, with using embryonic tissue or human eggs to
create the extraordinary stem cells, ethical and moral dilemmas came
Many with religious beliefs consider this as trading
potential life for established life, and it isn't something that man
should be doing. The debate shifted from scientific to spiritual
areas as scientists were accused of "playing God" with the unborn.
The conflicts precluded researchers from receiving the federal
funds needed to expand their studies, and scientists found
themselves embroiled in a war not just about science, but of
ideologies and theology.
The use of umbilical cord stem cells has not been a part of the
ethical debate, but their limited supply has created a high cost to
treatment, and it won't supply the continuing demand as more and
more Americans face neurological diseases.
Now past objections could become moot as research shifts to this
new technology that allows common skin cells infused with viruses to
be "fooled" into becoming stem cells.
What is equally important is that current follow-up reports show
that many researchers across the world are also drawing the same
results and can even see stem cells being created with non-viral
help in as little as a year.
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The new discovery has a possibility of becoming a viable alternative
to using embryos or human eggs by as early as 2009.
endorsements are lining up to confirm this technology as being
legitimate and non-threatening to religious and moral beliefs. The
Catholic Council of Bishops is stating that they see no problem with
using ordinary skin cells to help cure illness.
In President Bush's first term in office he vetoed legislation
that would further stem cell research using embryonic tissue or
fetuses in the research. In his last State of the Union, the
president took a moment to mention this new skin-cell-to-stem-cell
discovery and pledged to support this direction of research.
It would allow scientists to delve into difficult and still
untreatable diseases such as ALS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
It is possible that in as little as a year from now, one of the
greatest individual and personal debates we have in this country
might be swept away into history books. What is all the more
important is that both sides can claim victory and people with
little or no hope might be given a chance at leading full and
[By MIKE FAK]
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