As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

They'll Still Find A Way To Oppose It

With the news that researchers have figured out how to create stem cells without destroying embyros, the theocratic right will have to come up with a new rationale for stopping scientific breakthroughs. Maybe they'll decide that it's akin to cloning people.

The unencumbered ability to turn adult cells into embryonic ones capable of morphing into virtually every kind of cell or tissue, described in two scientific journal articles released today, has been the ultimate goal of researchers for years. In theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for their bodies from a few of their own skin cells, while giving researchers a uniquely powerful means of understanding and treating diseases.

Until now, only human egg cells and embryos, both difficult to obtain and laden with legal and ethical issues, had the mysterious power to turn ordinary cells into stem cells. And until this summer, the challenge of mimicking that process in the lab seemed almost insurmountable, leading many to wonder if stem cell research would ever wrest free of its political baggage.

There weren't any mad scientists looking to build a race of ├╝ber-humans. The goal was to create stem cells from adult skin cells all along, mainly because they are more efficient and more plentiful. The fundies were trying to hold back progress on technical grounds, and I have no doubt they'll continue to do so.

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