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False Hope on Embyronic Stem Cell Technology

Fret not, uptight religious conservatives: "...researchers at Advanced Cell Technology have now demonstrated that a colony can be grown from a single cell removed from an embryo that has only eight to 10 cells, using a process that should leave the embryo unharmed." Or maybe not.

In its rush to promote embryonic stem cell research and squelch doubts from conservatives, Saturday's editorial gets ahead of the facts right from the headline ("Stem Cells Without Embryo Loss").


"A small biotech company says it has found a way to produce human embryonic stem cells without destroying an embryo. That the prospect does not satisfy many religious conservatives who have opposed stem cell research demonstrates once again why the government should avoid making decisions on theological grounds.


The standard way to produce colonies of stem cells is to let an early human embryo grow to a size of about 150 cells, at which point its stem cells are extracted, and the embryo is destroyed in the process. But researchers at Advanced Cell Technology have now demonstrated that a colony can be grown from a single cell removed from an embryo that has only eight to 10 cells, using a process that should leave the embryo unharmed."


Well if it "should leave the embryo unharmed," then what are those silly religious conservatives waiting for? Hop on board!


But as Wesley Smith notes in the current Weekly Standard, there's ample reason to doubt ACT's findings, as well as the Times credulousfront-page reporting last week on the issue (emphasis his).


"New Stem Cell Method Avoids Destroying Embryos," the New York Times headline blared....The above headlines-like Green's statement and innumerable similar press accounts around the world-are just plain wrong. While ACT did indeed issue a press release heralding its embryonic stem cell experiment as having 'successfully generated human embryonic stem cells using an approach that does not harm embryos,' the actual report of the research led by ACT chief scientist Robert Lanza, published in Nature, tells a very different story. In fact, Lanza destroyed all 16 of the embryos he used, just as in conventional embryonic stem cell research."