Friday, August 25, 2006

New technique for developing embryonic stem cells: Does it make a moral difference?

Big news on the stem cell front this week: researchers at Advanced Cell Technology this week reported that they've developed a method for culturing embryonic stem cells from a single cell removed at the 8-cell stage. Removing the cell doesn't harm the embryo or hamper further development; in fact, this is the process currently used for preimplantation genetic diagnosis.

Proponents of the new technology say that it eliminates the major objection of those opposed to embryonic stem cell research: it doesn't destroy embryos. Some disagree, however, arguing that the single cell that is removed also has a right to life. The Vatican, which has long opposed all IVF technologies, says that the new method is unacceptable.

Still others doubt that technological changes can answer the inescapable ethical/moral question of whether embryonic research should be permissible. As Art Caplan told the New York Times (see the third link below), "This isn't a technique that's going anywhere. This isn't an alternative to anything."

Read more all over the place: here, here, and here, for starters.

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