Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stem cell breakthrough defuses debate

Scientists have created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells, a breakthrough that could someday produce new treatments for disease without the explosive moral questions of embyro cloning.


"Defuses debate"? Ha. The embryo angle has always been, at best, an expedient excuse. The real issue is our inexorable leaning toward a "posthuman" mode or existence -- and the mainstream's innate phobia of disturbing the biological status quo.

9 comments:

Dr. x said...

Perhaps. But once you remove the ethical/moral/religious objections to having to use fetuses for stem cells, you achieve a political breakthrough. How can one object to use of skin cells to create stem cells? I think this may make a major difference.

dad2059 said...

The idea of posthumanism does scare folks Mac, whether it's warranted or not.

Hey, if they can come up with gene therapies that can cure my epilepsy, type II diabetes and keep my rebuilt heart ticking, I'll be fighting to be the first in line, trust me!

I agree with doc x on this, we must take our victories when they're at hand.

Anonymous said...

"The embryo angle has always been, at best, an expedient excuse."

Not to say a completely bogus one, since the embryos that would otherwise be used are simply disposed of anyway. But dr. x is right, at least it SOUNDS less controversial, since we presumably would get political fundies ranting around about the rights of skin....

--W.M. Bear

Anonymous said...

WOULDN'T get political fundies ranting around, that is...

--WMB

Steve said...

I don't think the embryo issue was ever a cover for concern about posthumanism. The general ethical principle behind the pro-life movement is simply that human organisms should be protected even at the embryonic stage. I'm sure that many pro-lifers would welcome the benefits of stem cell research that don't involve the destruction of embryos.

Mac said...

How can one object to use of skin cells to create stem cells?

In a sane world, one couldn't. I'm predicting that the same religious zealots that opposed embryonic stem-cell research will find a way to shun the new approach as well.

This has never been a "moral" issue, per se; it's about controlling access to "dangerous" transhumanist technologies.

mr. intense said...

Let's not break out the champagne right away. Check out this follow- up report by Malcolm Ritter of AP:

http://tinyurl.com/2mh2qw

The way the American and Japanese scientists have achieved their breakthrough is by employing 4 implanted genes from viruses. The Japanese team uses two different gene combinations than the Americans. There is also a possibility of cancers developing, apparently.

And which team's combo is better?

As Ritter's report indicates, there's still a long way to go.

Steve said...

"This has never been a "moral" issue, per se; it's about controlling access to "dangerous" transhumanist technologies."

I dunno, Mac, do you have any evidence of that?

Mac said...

Steve--

My evidence? Watching the decidedly unenthusiastic reception of new technologies/discoveries by the religious right.

Could I be totally wrong? Certainly. This is merely my opinion.