Remember how back in June scientists were crowing over their new ability to turn mouse skin cells into embryonic stem cells? Well, they’ve done one better – just today The New York Times reported scientists now can turn HUMAN skin cells into embryonic stem cells.
Some, like Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, are hopeful this new technique means an end to research using cells from actual embryos. “Everyone was waiting for this day to come,” he said in the NYT. “You should have a solution here that will address the moral objections that have been percolating for years.”
Pacholczyk is probably right. Not even the most virulently anti-choice activist should be against this biotechnology since it takes the “embryo” out of “embryonic”. In other words, no human eggs, sperm or embryos will be needed to create these cells.
Personally, I hope this does NOT mean that scientists stop pursuing research from cells taken from embryos – this field of science is too promising and too new to put all its eggs in one basket, so to speak. But my guess is some might use this new technology to tie the hands of the researchers plodding along with “traditional” embryonic stem cell research.