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Thread: Ethics of stem cell research explored in forum

  1. #1
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    Ethics of stem cell research explored in forum

    http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortway...l/13332537.htm

    Posted on Mon, Dec. 05, 2005Jones: Cardiologist said long-term data is not in
    By Chad Ryan of The News-SentinelThe Rev. Tad Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center spoke to health-care practitioners on stem cell ethics and research Sunday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
    Meslinm: Directs IU’s Center for Bioethics
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    Ethics of stem cell research explored in forum


    Discernment must come with understanding, priest/scientist says.

    By Jennifer L. Boen

    jboen@news-sentinel.com


    Decisions policymakers and scientists make regarding stem cells reach to the core of the nation’s moral fabric, said the Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, neuroscientist and director of education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

    Embryonic stem cell research was the focus of a forum Sunday sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

    Stem cells are unspecialized cells that can continue to divide indefinitely. They also have the potential to develop into many different cell types in the body, serving as the body’s repair system.

    What has been at the crux of the ethical, moral and legal debate is that scientists have been harvesting some of these cells from fertilized human eggs at the earliest stage of cell division. For those who believe this earliest stage, called a blastocyst, is the start of a human life, destroying the blastocyst by harvesting stem cells is destroying a human life.

    “All of this is a real call to some serious ethical discernment,” Pacholczyk told nearly 150 people – many of them health-care professionals – who gathered at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. But discernment must come with understanding the science of stem cells, he said.

    “One of the great myths is that stem cells come only from embryos.” Drawing upon his training in neuroscience at Yale University and post-doctoral research at Harvard Medical School, Pacholczyk explained how different, but highly useful, adult stem cells can be harvested from several places: the placenta, umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid and bone marrow.

    They can also be harvested from body fat removed in liposuction.
    Drawing laughter from the audience, he explained, “Fat from liposuction is one of our great national treasures.”

    The Catholic Church is not opposed to stem cell research or the use of it to treat diseases, but it “will always oppose the destruction of embryos,” he said.

    It is from the adult stem cells that many treatments, even cures, for diseases have already been found, including cures for leukemia and other blood disorders. Although research needs to continue with adult stem cells, Pacholczyk said no treatments or cures for diseases have come from the use of embryonic stem cells.

    Dr. Eric Meslinm, director of Indiana University’s Center for Bioethics and assistant dean for bioethics at IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis, said that reasoning is flawed.

    “Adult stem cells have helped in treating blood disorders such as leukemia. The stem cells make new red blood cells.” But adult stem cells have “already started to move further down the developmental path. Embryonic cells haven’t decided what they want to be yet,” Meslinm said. Their flexibility is what scientists say enables them to become almost anything the body needs.

    “We’ve got the potential to turn the embryonic stem cells into new neuronal cells, islet cells (for diabetes treatment) or heart cells. The debate is how slow or fast you want science to be in the prevention of or cure of devastating diseases,” Meslin said.

    “There is not ever a morally acceptable fashion to procure these (embryonic stem cells),” Pacholczyk argued. The belief of some that it is OK to use embryos stored in embryo banks or research labs that might one day be restored also goes against God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Besides, he said, adult stem cells are already being used to treat more than blood disorders, such as for heart conditions. He cited ongoing research in which stem cells were removed from the pelvic bone and injected into the coronary artery of people following a heart attack. “These cells seem to go to the damaged area and set up shop there, eliminating scarring,” he said.

    Fort Wayne cardiologist Dr. Mark Jones said prior to the presentation, he had limited knowledge of stem cell research. While he was aware of the clinical trials using adult stem cells to repair cardiac damage, he said, “This is still research. The long-term data is not in.”

    Like Pacholczyk, Jones said he has many concerns about where embryonic stem cell research may lead. Using embryonic stem cells to treat would require harvesting lots of eggs from many women, which is not an easy thing to do and could require the use of drugs to stimulate ovulation. “I have a feeling that’s a dangerous thing,” he said. “I think we’ll find ways to manipulate adult stem cells to get what we need.” Although he is not a Catholic, Jones said, “The Catholic Church has been a moral shining light to raise objection in using human embryos.”

    Discernment on the issue has led to disagreement between even normally like-minded people. For example, President Bush has prohibited federally-funded research using human embryonic stem cells except in cells grown from the 22 stem cell lines, or ongoing sequences of duplication, that had been approved prior to Aug. 9, 2001.

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a heart doctor who opposed abortion, parted ways with Bush on this decision, saying, “While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early state, the limitation put into place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatment for certain diseases.”

    Pacholczyk said the problem in embryonic stem cell research is further complicated by the science of cloning, an additional step “down the slippery slope” of ethics and moral issues facing society. “Embryos don’t have faces, hands, feet or brains,” making them a less visible life. But the embryo is a human life, he said, and destroying for any reason at any stage is unacceptable.
    Would it not be fun if Pacholczyk did fall on his so called “slippery slope” and break his neck one lucky day? Maybe he will draw even more laughter from his audience then.
    Last edited by Leif; 12-06-2005 at 08:47 AM.

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    Leif,

    Good joke!

    Maybe if I die before such a thing should happen to him, and maybe if there is such a thing as reincarnation (?), I will come to him in a dream and tell him that he may have permission to use some cells from my new embryo, as I won't care to enter it until it has at least a face, hands, brain, etc., anyway. If that embryo dies, or if my next mother should miscarry, or whatever, then I'd be willing to wait for the next opportunity for a body if doing so would cure his injury.

    I don't know why these religious leaders don't think that we might enter into spiritual agreements with unborn souls to share cells. What if the new soul wants(!) to give, to share for the healing of others? I wonder if the religious leaders even let themselves think about that. Maybe they should ask God about it. Maybe it isn't so black-and-white as they tell their people it is, and maybe they'd like to check things out with their Boss before declaring something that might not be God's way of seeing it.

    Too bad it takes personal suffering before some people learn to sacrifice for compassion. But I guess that's something to do with human nature. Hope for the best, anyway...

    I mean, nature clones all the time, doesn't it?

  3. #3
    The way I see it is that there are some people that already have sci and are still not comfortable with the use of stem cells. I don't know that if a high up in the religious community had an sci if it would help the cause of stem cell research, in fact it might hurt it, when that person is used as an example that he, still, even with his ailment, is still against ESC.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbob
    The way I see it is that there are some people that already have sci and are still not comfortable with the use of stem cells. I don't know that if a high up in the religious community had an sci if it would help the cause of stem cell research, in fact it might hurt it, when that person is used as an example that he, still, even with his ailment, is still against ESC.
    You could be right here but my comments were due to what was written in the article. I don’t wish anybody to have SCI - on the other hand it could have helped this fellow to look at this research from another angle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbyg
    I don't know why these religious leaders don't think that we might enter into spiritual agreements with unborn souls to share cells. What if the new soul wants(!) to give, to share for the healing of others? I wonder if the religious leaders even let themselves think about that. Maybe they should ask God about it. Maybe it isn't so black-and-white as they tell their people it is, and maybe they'd like to check things out with their Boss before declaring something that might not be God's way of seeing it.

    Too bad it takes personal suffering before some people learn to sacrifice for compassion. But I guess that's something to do with human nature.
    Bobbyg. I agree and I think humans are very clever to make fantastic visions of the future when it comes to issues that are based upon traditional technology like; robots, cars that are flying, thinking stoves etc. But when it comes to medical or biological innovations we are surprisingly narrow minded. It is not just Dolly (the cloned sheep) that took “us” by surprise. Some of the reasons here are the complexity of biology which makes it difficult for, for example science fictions authors to speculate in this field. But above that the main reason could be our self, our own body, when it comes to that we are locked with a lot of prejudice and delusions that are not allowing any closer investigations.

    One of those delusions could be linked to the beginning of human life. It is difficult for us to understand how a human life and especially human consciousness can grow gradually. Thereby we prefer to believe that it suddenly pops up – complete and ready – like an gift from God, or that it has always in some way been here. Some has even (Pope Pius IX) told us that life starts with the fertilization, when egg and sperm meet, and thereby "we" believe in that. And thereby it also becomes “unethical” to destroy fertilized eggs even if the intentions are good.

    A stand like that involves a variety of contradictions and dilemmas, but that is just dismissed by some people?

    I believe that an egg – even fertilized – is not a life (in context with the above). It first becomes a life when it starts to grow inside a woman’s uterus. This has also been the stand for Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all the way up to Pius IX. Seams like he is the Boss when it comes to how to make a personal stand on embryonic stem cell research for some – I wish people could think for themselves instead?

    Note:
    I also wonder how many peoples with illnesses and injuries that could benefit from this fantastic research was attending the debate in this so-called debate about ethics and stem cell research that was discussed in this forum. The cardiologist even said prior to the presentation, he had limited knowledge of stem cell research??? Seams like the whole debate was arranged to discuss only one view on this topic. And that is cheating, and that again is a sin!

    And statements like the below quote from this nut head preacher pisses me off when we know how many peoples are suffering that could have benefited from this research - maybe I actually hopes that he falls on his "slippery slope" after all;
    They can also be harvested from body fat removed in liposuction.
    Drawing laughter from the audience, he explained, “Fat from liposuction is one of our great national treasures.”
    Next time I suggest that this preacher Pacholczyk should have his ethical debate in a rehabilitation centre for spinal cord injured people. To be more precise, a rehab centre for children. He could then try to explain his narrow minded views and foolish vies about liposuction to them and their parents. That would have been a true ethical debate.

    I doubt he will draw the same laughter from this audience.
    Last edited by Leif; 12-06-2005 at 09:10 AM.

  6. #6
    Father Tad speaks everywhere.
    And unfortunately people listen.
    He is a scientists supposedly..so why doesn't he take the fat cells and cure something?

    He acts soooo very pious..and brilliant. Yet hasn't cured a damn thing either. But HE knows exactly what can cure what all ails ya.

    He can't even turn water into wine..yet speaks as if he knows exactly what Jesus wants. Imagine that.
    Life isn't about getting thru the storm but learning to dance in the rain.

  7. #7
    This was posted here 4 1/2 years ago. It's no longer time to try to fit into THEIR PICTURE(the right), people who think cures will come from stem cells need to create a NEW PICTURE, How inhumane it is to not do this research
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    Reeve Interview on Stem Cell Research
    Here is the transcript of Christopher Reeve's with Brian Williams on July 23, 2001: http://www.msnbc.com/news/604047.asp


    Brian Williams: Christopher, what is your basic
    position on this, right now, incendiary issue of stem cell
    research?
    Christopher Reeve: I see it in terms of logic. And I
    think logic should be applied to any moral dilemma. So, if
    you start with a couple of facts and a question. The first fact
    is that 100 million Americans stand to benefit from all kinds
    of stem cell research. And for some patients, like ALS
    patients, it's the only help.
    Second fact, is that for 40 years fertility clinics, which
    have to be licensed by the state, have routinely been
    throwing out excess fertilized embryos into the garbage.
    So, the question, if you believe that life begins the
    moment an egg is fertilized, then doesn't it follow that
    murder - state sanctioned murder - is routinely going on
    in fertility clinics? And wouldn't you want to put a stop to
    that because it's immoral? And I don't see that happening. I
    see a major disconnect. And the reason there is this
    disconnect is because, today, one-in-six American couples
    are using fertility clinics. And, second of all, it's big business.
    Just one try is $25,000.
    So, any politician that goes home and says, 'We are
    now gonna shut down fertility clinics because it's destroying
    life,' would never get back in office. And that, for me sitting
    in a wheelchair, for somebody with ALS is tremendously
    hypocritical. So I - just to pick an opponent at random,
    [Sam Brownback, R-Ka.] from Kansas says, 'It's illegal,
    immoral, and unnecessary to do this research.' And then I
    asked him - we were on a panel together - I said, 'Well,
    where are... fertility clinics, because you're killing life with
    state approval?'
    And he said, 'I hadn't really thought about that.' That,
    to me, is a big affront. You know there has - you haven't
    thought about it? So I believe the question is you wouldn't
    get elected, you would not be back in the Senate if you tried
    to close them down.

    And one other point to make is that the AMA, the
    American Medical Association, recognizes infertility as a
    disease that can be treated. And that at least 12 state's
    insurance will cover it. So, I'm looking at the size of the
    equation. I'm looking at how many people have lives to be
    saved. What progress could happen in terms of pro-life.
    Pro-life is also for the living. And I thank God that there is
    now a ground-swell of support, you know, from really the
    strongest... to understand the distinction between a fertilized
    embryo headed for the garbage, and an embryo... that will
    become a life. So you can be pro-life, and pro-stem cell.
    Period.
    Brian Williams: The pope today - Associated
    Press: Pope John Paul II urged President Bush to bar using
    human embryos for medical research saying, Monday, 'That
    America has a moral responsibility to reject sanctions that
    devalue and violate human life.' That's the position you're
    up against.
    Christopher Reeve: Yeah, but that's the pope. And
    there's a big difference - and with all due respect, you
    know that there's a big difference between the the hierarchy
    of the church, the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, and the
    rank and file member of the Catholic Church.
    So, for example, your average Catholic has to decide
    what part of the religious doctrine they're going to follow
    and what not. Many people believe, for example, that
    priests should marry. Because priests give marriage
    counseling. Now, if they're not married, and a lot of them
    are even, you know, caught - questionable practices in
    their own lives, how are they gonna do effective marriage
    counseling?
    And there's the question of contraception, birth
    control. Because individuals get to decide whether they
    want to have more children or not? That's what most
    Catholics are up against.
    So, I'm very glad that - as I understand it - that the
    president did not give the pope any assurance or direct
    answer.
    And now we're in a position where 60 senators- 60
    senators from both parties, obviously, support federal
    funding for this research. And there've been tremendous
    conversions of... people like Bill Frist, right, who himself is a
    doctor, and an anti-abortionist, and a very strong Catholic.
    Strom Thurmond, who I would have thought was absolutely
    unmovable, has a daughter with diabetes, and that this is her
    best hope of survival. And, again pro-life means for the
    living.


    Brian Williams: When you -
    Christopher Reeve: I mean, we are used to
    governmental control. On the local, state, and federal level
    they should be there. That's why 12 year olds aren't
    allowed to drive cars. That's why the state says you have to
    go to school until you're 16. So, you know, there has to be
    some purpose for government, and that's why we elect
    people, that's why we have this system, to avoid absolute
    chaos.
    So, when it comes down to this, the stem cell issue,
    and you look at the fact that all 50 states license fertility
    clinics, then why aren't the opponents trying to approach
    the state legislatures and say, 'This is inappropriate for a
    state to do?' It's not happening anywhere, as far as I'm
    aware.
    If someone can tell me where there's legislation
    introduced in the state house to shut down fertility clinics, I'll
    be amazed. I don't think you can find it in one out of 50.
    Brian Williams: The opponents of this say, almost to
    a person, the issue shouldn't be about embryonic stem cells.
    There are plenty of adult stem cells out there. What's wrong
    with that?
    Christopher Reeve: They're missing some very vital
    information. This whole matter is a question of education, as
    a matter of fact. Now, yes, adult stem cells are found in the
    brain, they're found in the spinal cord. They're found in
    bone marrow. However, these are cells that already have an
    identity. They're already doing some kind of a job in the
    body. So, would it be possible to engineer to be like
    embryonic stem cells that can become any tissue in the
    body? Well, perhaps.
    But scientists could spend the next five years trying to
    do that, and end up with either nothing, or end up with
    basically pseudo-embryonic stem cells. But we have those
    available now. And another five years of research on
    something speculative, there's a lot of people gonna die in
    the meantime, unnecessarily.
    Brian Williams: How could this help you?
    Christopher Reeve: Well, in my particular case, I
    suffer from a very small area in the spinal cord, just below
    the brain stem, in the second vertebrae, where I had a
    hemorrhage in the middle of the cord. And this damage of
    blood, what it did was it took the myelin coating off of some
    nerves, and that's why I have very limited movement, can't
    breathe on my own, etc. So, just a quick word, myelin is
    like a rubber coating around a wire. And without that
    coating the wire can't conduct electricity. So, myelin coats
    the nerves. So, if you become de-myelinated, and the
    signals from the brain don't go down to the nerves to their
    target, the messages don't go through.
    But, human embryonic stem cells can easily be
    engineered to become myelin. And then they simply would
    be put in, right at the site by injection. And the experiments
    in the rat models are tremendous - tremendous.
    I have literally seen rats who were paraplegic, and then
    they [get] these cells - human embryonic stem cells
    injected into mice or rats - mostly rats, they're a little bit
    bigger. Anyway - and see these rats after this treatment,
    six weeks later they're trying to climb out of their little...
    where they're able to, literally able to, climb a rope ladder
    with all four legs. And they're - you'd never know that
    there's anything wrong with them.
    And for me, I mean I need to talk about myself,
    because I feel I'm not just representing spinal cord people.
    You know, with re-myelination just in itself, that's what's
    wrong with MS - it's what happens to people with MS. It
    would also help people with stroke, it would help people
    with Alzheimer's. You know, it just - the list of diseases is
    unbelievable.
    But, the ones that would be cured easier would be
    Parkinson's and diabetes. Because, one, you have the
    question of dopamine. And the other you have the question
    of insulin. And the deficit is in a very small area of the brain.
    So, you get the stem cells to be influenced. So to get them
    to be dopamine is a pretty simple thing to do.
    And I would bet, jet full steam ahead, Parkinson's and
    diabetes could be wiped out, cured just like polio was, in a
    matter of few years.
    Brian Williams: That's an incredible.
    Christopher Reeve: Yeah, and that -
    Brian Williams: - you're so high -
    Christopher Reeve: - millions of people -
    Brian Williams: My question is more of a reaction to
    the last thing you said. And when you say with some clarity
    and assurity that we're talking about cures for that group of
    diseases, we all know people who have those diseases. In
    just a few years - that's a very compelling argument.
    Christopher Reeve: Yes. And because this research
    is so new - I mean, it's only three years, it was 1998 that
    scientists discovered these cells, and the potential that they
    had of becoming tissue in the body. So you're dealing with
    something very, very new.
    But I think that without - everybody should not just
    climb on from moral or ideological spot. The first job is to
    become fully informed to what it's all about. And so, for
    example, I mean many politicians that our group has talked
    to, I mean the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation,
    you'd literally have to go in there and make a distinction and
    say, 'A stem cell is a size of a dot made by a little...' It's a
    pencil point. It's tiny. And, you know, it's headed for the
    garbage anyway in these clinics.
    We don't want to create embryos just for research.
    We want to rescue these cells from the garbage. Then you
    go, I don't understand how you can be opposed to that. I
    don't. But, then, nothing's impossible.
    However, I think there's a ground-swell of grass roots
    support... And I think that one of the greatest things
    President Bush could do is to take this opportunity to say, 'I
    know that during the campaign I said I was against
    embryonic stem cell research. But now I've listened to
    everybody on all sides, and I've changed my mind.' And
    that would be so great. That would really endear him to the
    American people.
    Brian Williams: Thank you.
    Christopher Reeve: My pleasure, thank you
    Last edited by bigbob; 12-06-2005 at 04:58 PM.
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    Leif--I enjoyed your comments. Yes--what I think is that we were created to think for ourselves. Heh!!

    Bigbob--reframing is a good idea. Personally, I'd rather focus on reframing the purpose of esc in its most positive terms and skip the 'back-atcha' of the term 'inhumane', as people may feel that as an attack on them.

    I would like people to know just how humane, how compassionate, caring, and Godlike in essence the healing of sci, Parkinson's, diabetes, etc. will be. I do personally feel that not doing the research is terribly inhumane--but I'm not going to make a significant point of it. (Not unless someone accidentally brings it up to me when I've just pulled an all-nighter with Jake and the day nurse didn't show and my back is killing me--never say never! But I do try to frame the positive perspective as much as possible.) It's just that more people might be able to hear if it doesn't accuse...

    Speaking of venting...how about this? Two of our five nurses are against 'cloning' for moral reasons. But they are so good with Jake...kind, professional, and I love them dearly.

    Go figure!

    Tana

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    Also, Bigbob--I meant to respond to this...if someone with sci was not comfortable with esc, he or she would certainly have the right to that choice, to not participate in the research or therapy. Some people believe that suffering is God's will for them. I don't subscribe to that, and believe that suffering happens to us...but I don't think I'm right and other people are wrong--it's just what I believe. I could be wrong. Or they could be wrong. I have no way of knowing for sure about that. The Bible, to me, is in part literal and in part requires interpreting. But I do think that God is all good and that our mistakes are always forgiven, so esc--if it turns out to be a spiritual mistake-- doesn't seem at all such a big risk spiritually to me as it does to some. I do wish there were some way to make us all more comfortable together, however.

    Thanks for the reminder that even sci people may hold the no-esc view. But it's awfully hard for me to accept that their suffering wouldn't soften the hearts of their fellows...at least in regards the possibility that their minister--as Chris Reeve suggested re: Pres. Bush--might listen and change his mind about whether or not the soul uses those early egg clusters to come to Earth.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbyg
    I would like people to know just how humane, how compassionate, caring, and Godlike in essence the healing of sci, Parkinson's, diabetes, etc. will be. I do personally feel that not doing the research is terribly inhumane--but I'm not going to make a significant point of it. (Not unless someone accidentally brings it up to me when I've just pulled an all-nighter with Jake and the day nurse didn't show and my back is killing me--never say never! But I do try to frame the positive perspective as much as possible.) It's just that more people might be able to hear if it doesn't accuse...

    Speaking of venting...how about this? Two of our five nurses are against 'cloning' for moral reasons. But they are so good with Jake...kind, professional, and I love them dearly.

    Go figure!

    Tana
    I’m sorry for your son Tana, though it was yourself that had SCI problems.

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