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Is embryonic stem cell research necessary?

Researchers have developed a technique that can quickly create safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells. Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research say the new technique renders the use of the controversial stem cells unnecessary, but many researchers disagree, saying embryonic stem cells are still crucial to their research. What do you think?

By Andrea Caumont  |  September 30, 2010; 2:47 PM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Why is this a matter for polling? Apparently the scientists are divided on the matter--a question of fact finding, not opinion polling is in order.

If the polling question had been something like "should use of embryonic stem cells be avoided when alternatives are available?", opinion polling would be appropriate.

Posted by: Socrates2 | September 30, 2010 3:29 PM

Over the past several years there have been a number of alternatives to embryonic stem cells proposed. In each case there was optimism that the research could be accomplished without the use of embryos. Also in each case the potential has not been realized.

The whole issue is a manufactured one. Use of embryos that were going to be destroyed anyway does not affect anyone. It is simply a wedge issue driven by ideology - not science, not facts, not common sense.

Posted by: mandelm2001 | September 30, 2010 4:38 PM

Well duh.
Q: How do you know this new method makes stem cells that are the same as embyonic stem cells?
A: You compare the reprogramed cells with embryonic stem cells in laboratory experiments. There is no other way.

Opponents to embryonic stem cell research seem totally unaware of this bit of common sense.
Likewise, they naively claim that reprogrammed cells have less potential for cancer & other side effects. The fact of the matter is this: embryonic stem cells naturally grow into a all possible body tissues, and we just need to figure out the signals to direct them to develop into what we need. Reprogrammed stem cells start as differentiated cells which must be "unprogrammed" and converted back into undifferentiated stem cells--a process which rarely (if ever) occurs naturally. Only after this unnatural (and experimental) step can the new stem cell used in the same way as an embryonic stem cell.

Posted by: Denswei | September 30, 2010 4:51 PM

Why should the government AKA taxpayer be footing the bill for genetic RESEARCH, when the taxpayers NEVER REAPS THE $$$$$$$ REWARDS only the BILL for medical advancement??

The rest of the world pays far less for drugs, than Americans, who have been forced to subsidized the scientific advancement and drug companies development of drugs that we NEVER GET THE $$$$ BENEFIT OF.

Why should tax dollars pay for private companies to make billions of dollars?


Posted by: tpagotie | September 30, 2010 7:00 PM

The ability to create induced pluripotent stem cells from adult cells, rather than embryos, is not free from ethical concerns. For one thing, scientists are on the horizon of being able to create gametes (sperm and egg cells) from adult stem cells. This raises difficult issues that will need to be wisely addressed through regulation. I write more about this issue on my blog, at

Posted by: MattHoberg | September 30, 2010 8:28 PM

People who get wound up about this are ignorant. Worse, too many of them would rather believe in 10th century fairy tales from people who on one hand claim to speak for magic dead guys, and on the other hold out their hands for money.

This is less "life" than bread mold. Mold and mildew can at least live on it's own. Sure, it's living cells, but so is the contents of a pimple, and there's a lot more cells in a pimple. A person spits more of their own DNA on the ground when they spit on the ground than this. Every time people urinate they flush out more cells than this. There are more cells of bacteria that live on a persons hand (even after washing) than this.

So given the facts, I just can't take the shrieking from the Cult of the Holy Fetus too seriously.

Posted by: Nymous | September 30, 2010 8:50 PM

The anti-embryonic stem cell crowd: Believers in the sanctity of life... until they get some god awful disease that might be cured by the research. Then they get all equivocal and Start rationalizing. Just like the so-called right to lifers, they equivocate when it comes to capital punishment. Hypocrites.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | October 1, 2010 8:13 AM

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