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Thread: SCI cure 2008

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by HZeiger
    So judging from the discussion you read my article about the pluripotent stem cells derived from skin cells. I appreciate Leo writing to me and inviting me to the forum.

    I can begin by addressing what I do. I work at Probe Ministries, but have a science background. Basically I write, teach, and speak on science and culture issues, and have been focusing my time on bioethics. Usually, I teach within the Christian community. Oftentimes Christians are either outspoken on issues (especially science) that they really don’t understand or don’t know how to approach an issue from a Christian worldview. I try to be a source of scholarship (to the best of my abilities anyway) in the area of science and culture.

    I realize that our opinions differ in regards to the embryo, but I think that you can appreciate the fact that I really do seek to educate Christians on good science and being logically consistent with their worldview. So unlike some, I approach my conclusions after many hours of consideration and research (as well as prayer). I don’t lean on propaganda or emotional manipulation for my writing or teaching nor do I just follow whatever the “religious right” has put their stamp of approval on.

    One thing I really work hard to do (and is a huge peeve of mine) is to help people understand the complexity of the issue, in this case ESC. Both sides of the stem cell debate seem to simplify and vilify the opposing side’s view. I think that is misleading and really unproductive. Whether you’re for or against ESC research, for the most part people on one side aren’t “baby killers” and for the most part people on the other side aren’t “heartless.” My goal is always to help people understand why someone would have the view that they do (which usually boils down to their worldview or philosophy of life, if you will), and hopefully, to help people at least have a little understanding, if not compassion, for the other side.
    Propaganda aside.
    So if you want to discuss, let’s discuss…
    Let's do that;

    I’m interesting in research and future therapies for spinal cord injuries mostly (obviously) when it comes to the above. I’m also interested in the ethics like you also claim to be interested in when it comes to bioethics, for me for finding treatments for SCI. But I believe we have a different roadmap on the ethics when it comes to biomedical research for finding therapies, and are you really that ethical you claim to be? To pinpoint that one a bit more in detail as for you’re article with some questions: -Why do you link the website www.stemcellresearch.org in your article to back you’re views if it is the ethical issue you want to address? -Do you know they have a so-called counting feature on their website saying; “Stem Cell Research Treatments” – “Benefits of Stem Cell to Human Patients” – And counting “Adult Stem Cells v. Embryonic Stem Cells” treatments? You know this bogus website list as one condition spinal cord injuries? -So by you listing the website, do you really agree that spinal cord injuries belongs there, on that list and like the ethical (read: propaganda) way they portray it? Do you also know that the treatment on that list from that website for “curing or alleviate” as you say it when it comes to spinal cord injuries it is not a stem cell matter at all? The website says it is nasal stem cells. I guess they do so to make it sound like a victory for adult stem cells so no hESC research is needed etc., but you should know in fact it is not stem cells at all (neither is the treatment a SCI treatment), it’s not adult nor embryonic stem cells but olfactory mucosa autografts (See PubMed here). So why using the SCI cure for this at all? It’s lying, like setting up adult stem cells vs. embryonic stem cells if the gain was not to bash embryonic stem cell research and at the same time use the SCI issue? Do you care about finding a SCI cure or for that matter any cures at all? I don’t think so, and it is for you to prove otherwise, well since you link spinal cord injuries treatments to your crusade article. I think you like many are only using spinal cord injured in your propaganda for things that has nothing to do with spinal cord injuries, and that’s not ethical to me, in fact, -it’s more an attack on SCI research I would say. I’m waiting for your response on you’re ethic as for this. Thanks upfront.

  2. #32
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    To add,

    As for you’re defence I have to say it can be quite easy in an eye blink by mistake to link bogus websites when discussing a matter, regardless the matter. But when writing articles like you did, to the public (well, to some of the public), one has to be careful and check and search the sources thoroughly so the articles would be as balanced and fair as possible, that’s good ethics to me. And when dealing with important issues like research for example on spinal cord injuries when life could be on steak, it is even more important to check the sources.

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    HZeiger, thank you very much for posting. I read your article and think that it was quite fair and balanced. I thought that you did not sufficiently emphasize that the induced pluripotent stem cells must now be shown to be therapeutically effective and safe and that embryonic stem cells have been taken to that stage in preclinical studies, but this is just a matter of emphasis and I thought that it was a very good article.

    However, I would like to extend the discussion. Hundreds of thousands of blastocysts are being discarded every year from in vitro fertilization clinics. Whether they are used for research or not, they will be thrown away (killed). Research on these blastocysts does not kill any embryos. Would you be willing to accept embryonic stem cell research that does not kill embryos?

    There are areas of science where embryonic stem cell studies are crucial and induced pluripotent stem cells are not good substitutes. For example, embryonic stem cells are the basis for development. To understand development abnormalities and what signals cells to develop abnormally, we need to study these cells both in culture and placed into developing animals. The one area that we can do little about is prevention of birth defects. Do you think that this area of research should be sacrificed?

    Wise.




    Let me first address the issue of IVF blastocysts. Just to make sure I’m with you on definitions, the stages after fertilization occurs are zygote, blastomere, and then blastocyst. The blastocyst is about 7-8 days old and is marked by the presence of this outer rim of cells which will eventually become the placenta. All of these terms used to be considered various phases in embryonic development, so they were always the embryo. The blastocyst and the embryo used to be the same thing, and a blastocyst just identifies a particular embryonic stage. This definition has been changed recently in updated textbooks. From a Christian perspective, the blastocyst has the same value as an embryo based on passages in scripture that say when you were conceived God knew of you. I also argue this is the case from a scientific standpoint that because upon conception the cells formed are genetically distinct from both the donors (mother and father); its unique genetics making it a distinct individual. Unfortunately our laws are not very consistent here. Criminal can be id’ed and convicted or exonerated on their DNA, but the unborn do not have rights even though they have distinct DNA too.

    On IVF, in general, I must concede inconsistency on many Christian’s views. While I am sensitive to the struggle and heartache that must come with infertility, I think that IVF is not an appropriate means of procreation, nor is it logically consistent with a Christian worldview if we claim that the embryo has value. You are right to bring that up, and it is a point of inconsistency on many Christian’s part.

    As far as what is to be done with existing embryos…I have no idea. Honestly, the most respectful thing based on the worldview that I hold, is to allow people to adopt them, but how feasible is that when there are lots of embryos in storage and the couple that paid for the procedure, according to our laws, has the right to keep them, donate them to research, or donate them to another couple? It’s a predicament that we have gotten ourselves into by treating children like commodities. But even if we did put those embryos up for adoption, I have a real problem when buying children is like buying a car. People could really exploit them – charge more for embryos that are in “high demand” or from couples with higher IQ’s, etc. Okay, so is the most respectful thing to volunteer these embryos for research? If I look at them as individuals, then advocating their use for research would be logically equivalent to saying someone has “less worth” than someone else who may benefit from the research. Honestly, that would be human experimentation.

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Leif
    Propaganda aside.Let's do that;

    I’m interesting in research and future therapies for spinal cord injuries mostly (obviously) when it comes to the above. I’m also interested in the ethics like you also claim to be interested in when it comes to bioethics, for me for finding treatments for SCI. But I believe we have a different roadmap on the ethics when it comes to biomedical research for finding therapies, and are you really that ethical you claim to be? To pinpoint that one a bit more in detail as for you’re article with some questions: -Why do you link the website www.stemcellresearch.org in your article to back you’re views if it is the ethical issue you want to address? -Do you know they have a so-called counting feature on their website saying; “Stem Cell Research Treatments” – “Benefits of Stem Cell to Human Patients” – And counting “Adult Stem Cells v. Embryonic Stem Cells” treatments? You know this bogus website list as one condition spinal cord injuries? -So by you listing the website, do you really agree that spinal cord injuries belongs there, on that list and like the ethical (read: propaganda) way they portray it? Do you also know that the treatment on that list from that website for “curing or alleviate” as you say it when it comes to spinal cord injuries it is not a stem cell matter at all? The website says it is nasal stem cells. I guess they do so to make it sound like a victory for adult stem cells so no hESC research is needed etc., but you should know in fact it is not stem cells at all (neither is the treatment a SCI treatment), it’s not adult nor embryonic stem cells but olfactory mucosa autografts (See PubMed here). So why using the SCI cure for this at all? It’s lying, like setting up adult stem cells vs. embryonic stem cells if the gain was not to bash embryonic stem cell research and at the same time use the SCI issue? Do you care about finding a SCI cure or for that matter any cures at all? I don’t think so, and it is for you to prove otherwise, well since you link spinal cord injuries treatments to your crusade article. I think you like many are only using spinal cord injured in your propaganda for things that has nothing to do with spinal cord injuries, and that’s not ethical to me, in fact, -it’s more an attack on SCI research I would say. I’m waiting for your response on you’re ethic as for this. Thanks upfront.
    In regards to this, I am not sure I follow your argument well; I think we are misunderstanding each other. I have met Christopher Hook and David Prentice (president of family research council); you’ll see their names at the bottom of the page. They are well-educated people in the area of biology and medicine. David Prentice gave an excellent lecture on stem cells at a Bioethics conference that I attended last summer, and he is quite well-read in the scientific literature.
    Here’s the deal with their group and their web site:
    They keep track of what comes out in peer-reviewed science and medical journals, and they try to keep lay people informed on these matters. One thing that they work to do, and I think is important is to educate people on the different types of stem cells. There are pluripotent ones, like an embryonic stem cell, and then there are adult stem cells, which are further along in the cell differentiation process, so they can only become particular types of cells. Although, as we have seen with bone marrow and skin stem cells, they can be coaxed into pluripotentcy. Both ESC and adult stem cells are stem cells, and the more differentiated kind have been used clinically for years (bone marrow, and umbilical cord are the most well-known).

    David Prentice has a very thorough paper discussing his research regarding what he considers “adult stem cells” as well as clinical treatments. It was published in 2003, though, so it is not current on all clinical treatments; more have been added since then.
    http://bioethicsprint.bioethics.gov/background/prentice_paper.html

    I hope I am interpreting you correctly, but there have been some positive clinical results to patients with spinal cord injuries. I don’t follow spinal cord injury research as thoroughly as you guys do, so please let me know if this paper has been retracted or updated or if new information about this patient has surfaced… in the journal Cythotherapy a woman who had been a paraplegic for 19 years gained some feeling in her hips and feet and was even able to respond to stimulation on the feet all from treatment with umbilical cord stem cells. I think they were even able to rebuilt parts of her spinal cord. Cure Care had a pretty extensive discussion about it in 2004 (http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthread.php?t=20630). One thing that I noticed in that discussion was that some people thought umbilical cord cells were ESC. They aren’t. Because of their level of differentiation, they are adult stem cells, and are an ethical means of obtaining stem cells. In fact, I am all about people studying fetal tissues like umbilical cords and the placenta and amnionic fluid, because the stem cells found there are quite versatile for adult stem cells, and they bring no harm to the baby or mother. Okay, one can argue that obtaining amnionic fluid does contain risks, but with our technological abilities with ultrasound, that risk is quite diminished. I think having cord banks is great, and any right-to-life types would be all for umbilical cord research. I will concede that there are still many who 1) don’t know the difference between adult stem cells and ESC, so 2) they think all stem cell research is bad, and 3) hear the word “fetal” in fetal tissue and misunderstand the fact this has nothing to do with destroying an embryo.

  5. #35
    With all due respect...In response to Post 33
    Your words My words

    "Let me first address the issue of IVF blastocysts. Just to make sure I’m with you on definitions, the stages after fertilization occurs are zygote, blastomere, and then blastocyst. The blastocyst is about 7-8 days old and is marked by the presence of this outer rim of cells which will eventually become the placenta." *Trophoblast or 'the outer rim' will provide embryo wih nutrients and develop into large part of the placenta=Human Life?*

    "All of these terms used to be considered various phases in embryonic development, so they were always the embryo." *Is proving that it's an embryo suppose to be a surprise to the EMBRYONIC stem cell researchers?*

    "The blastocyst and the embryo used to be the same thing, and a blastocyst just identifies a particular embryonic stage." *And the embryo just identifies a broader stage, encompassing 8 weeks, oh but we are talking about the 8 day old blastocyst anyway.*

    "This definition has been changed recently in updated textbooks." *So has the term conception and fertilization, conception now meaning "The onset of pregnancy, marked by implantation of the blastocyst"

    "From a Christian perspective, the blastocyst has the same value as an embryo based on passages in scripture that say when you were conceived God knew of you. I also argue this is the case from a scientific standpoint that because upon conception the cells formed are genetically distinct from both the donors (mother and father); its unique genetics making it a distinct individual.Unfortunately our laws are not very consistent here. Criminal can be id’ed and convicted or exonerated on their DNA, but the unborn do not have rights even though they have distinct DNA too." *Well if they use it to trace humans then it must be Human Life?*
    ...

    On to IVF Clinics. You say we should do away with based on it being inappropriate, good luck with that.

    Now the cells that are otherwise discarded. You have "no idea", but maybe adoption? But no wait, you reconsider, people would all compete for Einstein babies.

    I must have missed your point.
    Last edited by donz; 01-21-2008 at 07:06 PM.

    f
    ight

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by HZeiger
    Let me first address the issue of IVF blastocysts. Just to make sure I’m with you on definitions, the stages after fertilization occurs are zygote, blastomere, and then blastocyst. The blastocyst is about 7-8 days old and is marked by the presence of this outer rim of cells which will eventually become the placenta. All of these terms used to be considered various phases in embryonic development, so they were always the embryo. The blastocyst and the embryo used to be the same thing, and a blastocyst just identifies a particular embryonic stage. This definition has been changed recently in updated textbooks. From a Christian perspective, the blastocyst has the same value as an embryo based on passages in scripture that say when you were conceived God knew of you. I also argue this is the case from a scientific standpoint that because upon conception the cells formed are genetically distinct from both the donors (mother and father); its unique genetics making it a distinct individual. Unfortunately our laws are not very consistent here. Criminal can be id’ed and convicted or exonerated on their DNA, but the unborn do not have rights even though they have distinct DNA too.

    On IVF, in general, I must concede inconsistency on many Christian’s views. While I am sensitive to the struggle and heartache that must come with infertility, I think that IVF is not an appropriate means of procreation, nor is it logically consistent with a Christian worldview if we claim that the embryo has value. You are right to bring that up, and it is a point of inconsistency on many Christian’s part.

    As far as what is to be done with existing embryos…I have no idea. Honestly, the most respectful thing based on the worldview that I hold, is to allow people to adopt them, but how feasible is that when there are lots of embryos in storage and the couple that paid for the procedure, according to our laws, has the right to keep them, donate them to research, or donate them to another couple? It’s a predicament that we have gotten ourselves into by treating children like commodities. But even if we did put those embryos up for adoption, I have a real problem when buying children is like buying a car. People could really exploit them – charge more for embryos that are in “high demand” or from couples with higher IQ’s, etc. Okay, so is the most respectful thing to volunteer these embryos for research? If I look at them as individuals, then advocating their use for research would be logically equivalent to saying someone has “less worth” than someone else who may benefit from the research. Honestly, that would be human experimentation.
    Thank you for your answers. I disagree with one assumption in your definition. You assume that anything from the fertilized eggs to birth is "embryonic" and therefore all stages are called embryos. Scientists do not define all stages of development to be embryonic. So, for example, a fertilized egg is not an embryo. A morula and a blastocyst are not usually considered "embryos" even though some scientists and textbooks (which are not always written by scientists, by the way) may carelessly call them embryos.

    A blastocyst becomes an embryo only after it has implanted into the uterus and develops a midline. An embryo becomes a fetus when it develops recognizable limbs and organs. Because the textbooks call the entire process embryonic development does not make the blastocyst an embryo. While this may seem to be quibbling, I think that it is important because it gives a blastocyst a certain status that is misleading. It is a ball of cells with no midline or any recognizable parts. It has no nervous system or organs. It has no thoughts, consciousness, or other characteristics of a person.

    Some people consider the term embryonic stem cells to be a misnomer because the cells are derived from pre-embryonic stem cells, i.e. from the blastocyst. In the beginning, I thought that they should be called pre-embryonic stem cells but, over the past year or two, have changed my mind for the following reasons. What is the difference between pre-embyronic and embryonic stem cells? The difference is that the former has he ability ability to make trophoblasts and placenta while the latter goes on to make the embryo. So, I think that the term embryonic stem cell is actually accurate because they were derived from the inner cell mass that eventually does go on to make the embryo.

    An embryo becomes a fetus when it develops recognizable body parts, such as limbs, head, and organs. In fetuses, there are many stem cells that are already specialized for specific tissues. For example, there are neural stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, and many progenitor cells. It is likely that most of the cells that scientists have grown from fetal animals since the 1940's have been fetal stem cells that have differentiated and then are growing in culture. Fetal stem cells are easy to grow compared to embyronic stem cells.

    You are right that umbilical cord blood cells are not embryonic stem cells and many people mistaken them for such. In some ways, they can perhaps be considered to have fetal stem cells since fetuses blood that is coursing in the umbilical cord just before birth. However, since the blood is collected at birth, the appropriate name is neonatal. It is neonatal human blood. I object to people calling umbilical cord blood cells adult stem cells. This makes a mockery of the word "adult". Would we call a newborn baby an adult? I don't think so. I think that there are major differences between umbilical cord blood and adult blood. The two should not be equated.

    Wise.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by HZeiger
    In regards to this, I am not sure I follow your argument well; I think we are misunderstanding each other. I have met Christopher Hook and David Prentice (president of family research council); you’ll see their names at the bottom of the page. They are well-educated people in the area of biology and medicine. David Prentice gave an excellent lecture on stem cells at a Bioethics conference that I attended last summer, and he is quite well-read in the scientific literature.
    Here’s the deal with their group and their web site:
    They keep track of what comes out in peer-reviewed science and medical journals, and they try to keep lay people informed on these matters. One thing that they work to do, and I think is important is to educate people on the different types of stem cells. There are pluripotent ones, like an embryonic stem cell, and then there are adult stem cells, which are further along in the cell differentiation process, so they can only become particular types of cells. Although, as we have seen with bone marrow and skin stem cells, they can be coaxed into pluripotentcy. Both ESC and adult stem cells are stem cells, and the more differentiated kind have been used clinically for years (bone marrow, and umbilical cord are the most well-known).

    David Prentice has a very thorough paper discussing his research regarding what he considers “adult stem cells” as well as clinical treatments. It was published in 2003, though, so it is not current on all clinical treatments; more have been added since then.
    http://bioethicsprint.bioethics.gov/background/prentice_paper.html

    I hope I am interpreting you correctly, but there have been some positive clinical results to patients with spinal cord injuries. I don’t follow spinal cord injury research as thoroughly as you guys do, so please let me know if this paper has been retracted or updated or if new information about this patient has surfaced… in the journal Cythotherapy a woman who had been a paraplegic for 19 years gained some feeling in her hips and feet and was even able to respond to stimulation on the feet all from treatment with umbilical cord stem cells. I think they were even able to rebuilt parts of her spinal cord. Cure Care had a pretty extensive discussion about it in 2004 (http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthread.php?t=20630). One thing that I noticed in that discussion was that some people thought umbilical cord cells were ESC. They aren’t. Because of their level of differentiation, they are adult stem cells, and are an ethical means of obtaining stem cells. In fact, I am all about people studying fetal tissues like umbilical cords and the placenta and amnionic fluid, because the stem cells found there are quite versatile for adult stem cells, and they bring no harm to the baby or mother. Okay, one can argue that obtaining amnionic fluid does contain risks, but with our technological abilities with ultrasound, that risk is quite diminished. I think having cord banks is great, and any right-to-life types would be all for umbilical cord research. I will concede that there are still many who 1) don’t know the difference between adult stem cells and ESC, so 2) they think all stem cell research is bad, and 3) hear the word “fetal” in fetal tissue and misunderstand the fact this has nothing to do with destroying an embryo.
    Heather Zeiger.
    My point simply was; why does the website you referred to in you’re original article use spinal cord injuries as witness/proof proof of adult stem cell treatments work for this type of injuries when the cells used wasn’t even stem cells (aside the proof it worked also seems not to be proven)? The olfactory mucosa autografts made/harvested from the olfactory bulb is as far as I understand not stem cells.

    For example the http://usinfo.state.gov/ website define a stem cell to be: A "generic" cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely. In addition, a stem cell has the ability to produce specialized cells for various tissues in the body, such as heart muscle, brain tissue, and liver tissue. Scientists are able to maintain stem cells forever, developing them into specialized cells as needed. There are two basic types of stem cells. The first type is the embryonic stem cell, which is obtained from either aborted fetuses or fertilized eggs that are left over from in vitro fertilization. Embryonic stem cells are useful for medical and research purposes because they can produce cells for almost every tissue in the body. The second type is the adult stem cell, which is not as versatile for research purposes because it is specific to certain cell types, such as blood, intestines, skin, and muscle.

    I am not sure the cells used in the example in you’re website link for spinal cord injury treatments has those characteristics.

    As for the woman who gained some returns after being paralysed for 19 years I believe you are referring to a Korean woman, I’m sorry to report, but as far as I know, things didn’t go so well for her after the treatment. You can search more on this woman on this website.

    And as you conclude on many don’t know the difference between adult stem cells and ESC, I will likewise conclude that many don’t know the difference between a regular cell and a stem cell

  8. #38
    Senior Member Leo's Avatar
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    Hi Heather,

    Come on now, IVF is not going away and we all know that. At least 300 embryo's are killed a day and that's not going to change and we all know that.

    Dr. Keistead and Dr. Wirth are going to treat people with ESC's to relieve suffering.

    Another point of fact, Dr. Wirth's ESC line comes from one of the approved embryo's and he has enough cells from that line to treat 1 million suffering patients.

    It's about Quality of Life vrs. Quality of Life.

    The fate of the IVF embryo has been decided and you believe nothing good should come from it?

    What's the valuse/worth in that? From what I've read it just makes the people who arn't suffering feel more comfortable with the issue.

    If we're looking or waiting for consistacy from Christian's before we act, lets just say it will be along wait.

    In researching the history and struggle Christian's had with the IVF issue I found this quote by Martin Luther quite appropriate,

    "Heretofore I have held that where something was to be proved by Scriptures, the Scriptures must really refer to the point at issue. I learn now that it is enough to throw many passages together helter-skelter whether they fit or not. If this be the way, then I can easily prove from the Scriptures that beer is better than wine."

    http://www.elca.org/jle/article.asp?k=342

    As much as some would like we cannot turn back time.
    http://justadollarplease.org/

    2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member

    "You kids and your cures, why back when I was injured they gave us a wheelchair and that's the way it was and we liked it!" Grumpy Old Man

    .."i used to be able to goof around so much because i knew Superman had my back. now all i've got is his example -- and that's gonna have to be enough."

  9. #39
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    Okay,

    Let’s see, how was it now?
    1. Whoops, "-here we have a leftover fertilized egg – hmm?"
    2. Two questions arise; "-should we dump it in the trashcan or use it for research for therapies?"
    3. “I say we dump it”
    Sounds smart? Hmm? But that’s the issue and the reality no matter how much one twist words, terms or are pro or against ESCR.

    PS. Good quote there Leo. I would like to inform we got our new biotechnology law now, valid from 1. of January 2008. To allow ESCR on leftover IVF fertilized eggs. We are out of the medieval times, at last.
    Last edited by Leif; 01-22-2008 at 03:43 PM.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    Thank you for your answers. I disagree with one assumption in your definition. You assume that anything from the fertilized eggs to birth is "embryonic" and therefore all stages are called embryos. Scientists do not define all stages of development to be embryonic. So, for example, a fertilized egg is not an embryo. A morula and a blastocyst are not usually considered "embryos" even though some scientists and textbooks (which are not always written by scientists, by the way) may carelessly call them embryos.

    A blastocyst becomes an embryo only after it has implanted into the uterus and develops a midline. An embryo becomes a fetus when it develops recognizable limbs and organs. Because the textbooks call the entire process embryonic development does not make the blastocyst an embryo. While this may seem to be quibbling, I think that it is important because it gives a blastocyst a certain status that is misleading. It is a ball of cells with no midline or any recognizable parts. It has no nervous system or organs. It has no thoughts, consciousness, or other characteristics of a person.

    Some people consider the term embryonic stem cells to be a misnomer because the cells are derived from pre-embryonic stem cells, i.e. from the blastocyst. In the beginning, I thought that they should be called pre-embryonic stem cells but, over the past year or two, have changed my mind for the following reasons. What is the difference between pre-embyronic and embryonic stem cells? The difference is that the former has he ability ability to make trophoblasts and placenta while the latter goes on to make the embryo. So, I think that the term embryonic stem cell is actually accurate because they were derived from the inner cell mass that eventually does go on to make the embryo.

    An embryo becomes a fetus when it develops recognizable body parts, such as limbs, head, and organs. In fetuses, there are many stem cells that are already specialized for specific tissues. For example, there are neural stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, and many progenitor cells. It is likely that most of the cells that scientists have grown from fetal animals since the 1940's have been fetal stem cells that have differentiated and then are growing in culture. Fetal stem cells are easy to grow compared to embyronic stem cells.
    Sorry to delay in responding. I had some deadlines…

    I want to respond to this comment, specifically, because I think that the implantation argument is probably the most compelling argument from advocates of ESC research. When I first began studying stem cells, I really wrestled with this one because (at this point in our technology anyway) the fertilized egg will only begin to grow into a human upon implantation. We do not yet understand all of the hormonal signals that the woman’s body contributes to fetal development, so we have yet to replicate them in vitro. The argument that implantation begins the directional process of development is a great argument.

    The issue is difficult because, if we assume that most people don’t like killing babies for personal gain (a safe assumption), then the real question is When does personhood begin? When does this “clump of cells” deserve the dignity and respect of a human being? And while some may go back and forth with name-calling and claiming the other side is “heartless,” really each is taking a different perspective on answering this question (at conception, upon implantation, after 8 days, after the 1st trimester, after birth, or in Peter Singer’s case after your initial 2 month trial period).

    I ultimately took a hard line that, upon conception, this new organism is a human being, and it therefore deserves the dignity attributed to that. Here was the reasoning:
    • It doesn’t have the features of a human being – The argument based on physiology isn’t going to work, because then, to be logically consistent, what can I say about any person that is “deformed” say a burn victim or someone that has been in an accident or has lost some of their limbs. Do they suddenly loose their status as a human being?
    • It won’t grow outside the womb – There are lots of environments that would prohibit growth or human survival. Just because it was originally created in vitro doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a difference here. This is the unnatural way to create, so obviously it isn’t going to grow and survive any more so than if I tried planting seeds in plaster. The seeds are still capable of becoming a plant; I just tampered with them. That didn’t change the nature of the seeds. And even if I had done the work of nature by cross breeding a couple of plants and then harvested the seeds, that doesn’t change the nature of the seed. Just because I created it, doesn’t mean that I can proclaim it not alive or change the definition of a seed. If we are allowed to say that since a scientist created it, he/she can decide the nature of the creation, whether or not it is alive, it value, etc, then we would have to concede that when a couple creates a baby, they are allowed to do whatever they please including discard it because they created it. As a scientist, I can see the power trip involved in being able to create things. I worked with organic synthesis for my graduate work and it’s quite empowering to make something new.
    • Life begins. . . .when?. And its corollary: Personhood begins when? This is one of those where people are very confident in their answers, but as a Christian, personhood is both physical and spiritual. We have revelation that gives us some insights into when God considers us persons, but we don’t have directions as to when is the exact moment. For example: When God is called Jeremiah to be a prophet he says that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5), and in Psalm 139. At this point I had to consider: If I take what I know from scripture as guidance on the spiritual part and what I know from nature as guidance on the physical part, it’s really hard for me to ignore the fact that in both cases, I would draw the line of personhood at conception. That organism becomes a new genetic entity. What do I do with that? You can’t trace that DNA to a previous, original source. It is a new set of genetics.

    This was my reasoning. The implantation argument is a good one, and one that really forced me to consider the reality of motivations, definitions, and issues. I appreciate that you too have carefully considered your position on this issue and are not just following the ESC research line (or the media’s line for that matter), but have considered this.

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