The problem with the stem cell debate has been the false dichotomy between either "stem-cell research or protect[ing] embryos." The problem is, "It's not about stem cells. It's about embryonic stem cells," CT wrote in an editorial. Adult stem cells work wonderfully in therapy and don't require the destruction of embryos, says C. Christopher Hook, director of ethics education for the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.
But Science doesn't like to be told no, and in much of the reporting on the issue, the debate is framed as if its no stem cell research vs. unlimited stem cell research. And concern for nascent human lifein the form of the embryois increasingly disparaged.
So William B. Hurlbut has come up with a third way.
According to The Boston Globe Hurlbut, "a Stanford bioethicist and staunch opponent of research on human embryos," is trying to gain support for a plan to use embryos that could never become embryos, in order to harvest stem cells. It would actually be what journalists typically describe an embryo to be, a "cluster of cells."
It works like this, according to The Globe:
Before implanting the DNA from a skin cell into an egg, scientists would turn off a gene that helps direct the formation of the trophectoderm, an outer layer of cells that is crucial in the first stages of development and which eventually forms the placenta. With this gene silenced, the trophectoderm does not form properly.
And therefore, the cells can't become an embryo. So why wouldn't it be an embryo? Well, the cells never individualize.
Despite ethical and technical difficulties, the idea has the support of leading pro-life bio-ethicists. "Three critics of current methods for creating embryonic stem cellsArchbishop William J. ...1
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