The ethical argument’s been raging for a couple of years now. With all the miraculous things scientists can do with stem cells–especially the fresh, eminently moldable embryonic stem cells (the use of which cause outrage among many traditional religious groups)–it’s been a sore spot that the U.S. has banned use of them if they come from embryos–even ones that are going to be destroyed anyway because they’re “extras” from in vitro fertilization efforts.
I’ve written in previous posts here and here (use the “search” box to find others) about how many other countries have no such concerns about embryonic stem cells and how this could easily predicate a fall in U.S. competitiveness in this arena. Now comes the discovery that blood from the embryonic cord yields embryonic stem cells that bypass the usual ethical objections.
And I was just remarking on how changing the way you think about something often leads to dramatic discoveries. It reminds me of the time I was writing a white paper on the subject of asthma–everything I was learning led me to think of the research as both a puzzle and a map. Fortunately, Valdis Krebs who created the mapping software sold at www.orgnet.com helped me create a map that even the doctors were amazed to find clearly demonstrated how current medicine was attacking the problem at a certain place on the map–whereas the client’s research was attacking it at a point one step earlier on the map.
Dreaming down a different path this time means that now there’s a way to use embryonic stem cells without crossing the ethical border. What a miracle–for future beneficiaries of the therapies–and also for U.S. scientists.