Sunday, October 27, 2013



Some contend that experimentation with embryonic stem cells violates the commandment prohibiting killing since the embryo destined to be an adult human being is destroyed in the process.  There is some support from evolutionary theory that it is also bad or wasteful science.  Experience in stem cell research also shows that embryonic stem cells have only the slimmest of chances of effecting cures whereas adult stem cells have produced a considerable number of successes.

The evolutionary process whereby organisms were produced involved many developmental steps prior to the adult stem cell production.  Those steps may have been modified in different ways in different species over time.  The same thing may be said for the process of producing the adult organ from the adult stem cell.  But the adult stem cell is programmed to do the right thing in the right place.  The embryonic stem cell is programmed to do everything, but it has been difficult to limit its development to just the job of one type of adult stem cells.  As a result, embryonic stem cell research for cures has mostly resulted in failures, many of which involved induction of tumors or cancers.  The failure is presumably due to the inability to turn off the potential of the embryonic cells in all directions but the desired one.

There is optimism in the recent discovery of methods to produce the equivalent of adult stem cells from some adult cells.  This can be potentially the best stem cell research line for the following reason.  The stem cells produced from this method could come from the individual needing treatment and as a result be free from the danger of rejection of non-compatible donor cells.

For the non-religious or those who have no objections on moral grounds, embryonic stem cell research should not be promoted or receive tax dollars because it is money wasted.  The value all research has for training new scientists and development methods is not unique to embryonic stem cell research and can as readily be had by doing adult stem cell research.

Joseph G. Engemann     October 27, 2013

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