NEW YORK - Scientists have created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells, a breakthrough that could someday produce new treatments for disease without the explosive moral questions of embyro cloning.
Research teams in the United States and Japan showed that a simple lab technique can rival the complex and highly controversial idea of extracting stem cells from cloned embryos.
It was a landmark achievement on all fronts, defusing one of the most divisive debates in modern medicine and religion. It was lauded by scientists, ethicists and religious groups.
"This work represents a tremendous scientific milestone — the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first airplane," said Dr. Robert Lanza, whose company, Advanced Cell Technology, has been trying to extract stem cells from cloned human embryos.
"It redefines the ethical terrain," said Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University.
"It's a win-win for everyone involved," said the Rev. Thomas Berg of the Westchester Institute, a Roman Catholic think tank. "We have a way to move forward which ... brings the kind of painful national debate over this controversial research to very much a peaceful and promising resolution."
This is indeed wonderful news. I hope those pushing for government funds for stem cells will back off now. There is no longer a need to kill people, or harvest them if you will, to do this research.
And I seriously hope that the research on these stem cells produces great results.
I will be interested to hear what those who claimed we would find nothing worth noting by pursuing other options will have to say on this issue. I would hope for some apologies, but I won't be surprised if the result if deafening silence instead.