Thursday, January 30, 2014

New STAP cell research a positive discovery for pro-lifers [Megan]

A recent article reveals ground-breaking discoveries on the stem cell research front. Below is a synopsis, and you can read the full article here.

There's a myth out there that paints pro-lifers as being in opposition to some great medical and scientific advancements, especially when it comes to curing diseases through the discoveries of stem cell research.

Let me put that myth to rest. Again.

The only research I'm opposed to is the kind that takes the lives of defenseless human beings without proper justification. Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) — the kind that involves the production of a developing human embryo in a Petri dish only to have its stem cells extracted after fourteen days which results in its death — is wrong. Physical sickness and injury are tragic realities of the world we live in. It's a scary and painful thing we face as human beings. Killing the innocent among us to help others get better is not a human response — it's an evil one.

But stem cell research in general has my full approval. I cheered when I learned of the ground-breaking induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell research that can take an adult's skin cells and trick them into acting like embryonic stem cells. It's making a real difference, and at no cost of human lives. In fact, success is more likely since the IPS cells are a genetic match to the patients and are easier to control than their embryonic counterparts, which tend to be extremely volatile. That's science at its best! (Apparently the Nobel Prize search committee agreed in 2006, when the prize was given to the Japanese scientist who unveiled the research.)

Looks like the committee may have a new name to throw in the pot.

As the article reveals, (another) Japanese researcher Dr. Haruko Obokata has successfully  "shocked" blood cells with a mild acid bath into acting like stem cells.

These new cells are called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells. Obokata's research was successful using mouse blood cells, and is now taking place to see if human blood acts the same way.

To quote Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London:  "If this works in people as well as it does in mice, it looks faster, cheaper, and possibly safer than other cell reprogramming technologies — personalized reprogrammed cell therapies may now be viable."

For example, age-related macular degeneration (a condition which causes loss of vision) currently requires about 10 months to begin treatment using IPS cells. If successful, STAP cell treatment could knock weeks off of that time frame and would cost a great deal less.

That's exciting news for humankind!

It also provides an accurate and helpful response for pro-life advocates who want to defend their views in conversations about ESCR.

I'm interested to see what will happen with STAP cell research. Research like Dr. Obokata's fits squarely within the pro-life view, not in opposition to it.

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