Monday, August 23, 2010

Stem Cell Research in the News: My Take

Update (August 30, 2010)
See also
Normally I read well past the headline in news articles. Today I didn't: and so might have gotten the idea that vital medical research had been dealt a terrible blow by a short-sighted Congress. Stem cell research was blocked, you see.

I trust that America's old-school news media got around, somewhere in their coverage, to explaining what sort of stem cell research was blocked.

I've been around long enough not to hope that they'd also explain why this incredibly important research was stopped.

Stem Cells: Lots of Potential

Stem cells are cells you can find in people who haven't been born yet, people who are adults, and even in our umbilical cords, after we're done with them. There's a good chance that the knack stem cells have for becoming different sorts of tissue will help folks whose bodies aren't working right.1

"Harvesting Stem Cells" Sounds so Nice

One way to get stem cells is to kill someone and cut out the stem cells.

When you do that to an adult, it's often regarded as murder.

When you kill a baby: as long as the hit is done before we're born, it's quite legal here in America.

Legal, yes: moral, no.

I've discussed this before. (November 2, 2008)

The stem cell research that was blocked was the sort that involves cutting up babies and seeing what can be done with the pieces.

It sounds nicer when terms like "harvesting" are used: plus a bit of linguistic trickery to make it sound like the person who's being sliced and diced wasn't a living baby a few hours earlier.

Isn't the Catholic Church Against Science and Reason?

Two words:
  • Gregor
  • Mendel
I've discussed this before, too. (June 5, 2010)

About medical research in general, and stem cell research in particular, if the Vatican is against that sort of thing, they've got a funny way of showing it:Related posts:In the news:
1Update (August 24, 2010)

One reason that medical researchers want to kill babies and chop them up is that 'embryonic' stem cells are easier to grow than those found in adults. And they're pluripotent - able to grow into any sort of tissue. Quite convenient, both ways.

According to the National Institutes of Health:
"...Human embryonic and adult stem cells each have advantages and disadvantages regarding potential use for cell-based regenerative therapies. One major difference between adult and embryonic stem cells is their different abilities in the number and type of differentiated cell types they can become. Embryonic stem cells can become all cell types of the body because they are pluripotent. Adult stem cells are thought to be limited to differentiating into different cell types of their tissue of origin...."
("Stem Cell Basics," Stem Cell Information, National Institutes of Health)
Clear enough. Here's the last sentence in that paragraph, with emphasis:
"...Adult stem cells are thought to be limited to differentiating into different cell types of their tissue of origin...."
("Stem Cell Basics," Stem Cell Information, National Institutes of Health)
I don't think it's very unfair to summarize that portion of the NIH's remarks as "it's easier to grow stem cells we've taken from murdered babies: and besides, we think adult stem cells probably wouldn't be quite as useful."

Sounds disgusting, when I put it that way. Use lots of words, many of them very long and derived from Latin: and folks may tend to forget what's done to get those "embryonic" stem cells.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.