Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Science Today

From the Daily Mail:

British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.

The technique that created the 'mini-liver', currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.

Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

and a bit later in the article:
The Newcastle researchers foresee a time when cord blood from millions of babies born each year is banked, creating a worldwide donor register for liver dialysis and transplant.

Computerised registers could then be created to match the cord blood with tissue type or immune system of patients with liver problems.

Already used to treat leukaemia, more than 11,000 British parents have so far chosen frozen their children's cord blood in a dozen such banks around the UK.

Prof McGuckin said: "One hundred million children are born around the world every year - that is 100 million different tissue types.

"With that number of children being born every year, we should be able to find a tissue for me and you and every other person who doesn't have stem cells banked."

Portland, Oregon has a cord blood bank. I donated my first born's cord blood simply by signing a Red Cross form at the same time I was filling out the other new born registry papers. The Red Cross representative explained what it was for and why scientists show interest in it. That was six years ago and even in my post labor fatigue I was able to follow her simple explaination.

This is why I find the whole cloning and embryonic stem cell debate so frustrating. As a pro-lifer and a conservative, I am not at all convinced by the disengenuous arguements that embryonic research is the only one that promises to deliver the cures, because of the types of cells used. I am distrustful of a campaign for an ethically debatable process which uses half truths to push their message while wholly acceptable alternatives are available.

Classical Values adds:
I'm wondering what is meant by "more ethically acceptable than the use of embryonic stem cells," though.

Does "more ethically acceptable" mean that there are any ethical objections to utilizing umbilical cord blood? Or is it just surplusage of language, like saying that good is more ethically acceptable than evil?

I'm not going to spend all day on this, but I was unable to find a single objection to umbilical cord blood research.

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