Stem Cell Sources

August 6, 1999

Federal bureaucrats have approved the harvesting and use of stem cells. These stem cells have not differentiated and therefore have the capacity to develop into various body parts. Scientists believe that they may be able to direct these cells to develop into all 210 different kinds of tissue. They could be cells that heal broken nerve cells, offering the possibility of treating Parkinson's disease, and could be used in internal organs to treat diabetes or heart failure.

The problem is that scientists insist on obtaining these stem cells from embryonic human beings. By dissecting embryos for their stem cells, they kill the embryo just as dissecting adult humans for their body parts would kill them. So stem cell research raises substantial pro-life concerns.

But it doesn't have to. Stem cells are readily available from other sources. Placentas and umbilical cords are rich in stem cells. So are some adult tissues like bone marrow and the nervous system. Already scientists treating cancer and doing research on leukemia are using blood cell-producing stem cells from bone marrow as well as stem cells from the umbilical cords in live births. And scientists have also discovered an enzyme that could lead to new ways to regenerate adult tissue, giving new life to old cells.

Frankly, these sources of tissue regeneration may be just as promising for advances in transplant therapy as stem cells. They may be even more more helpful since one's body won't reject tissues generated from one's own stem cells.

So while stem cell research doesn't have to raise pro-life concerns, it currently does due to the way embryonic stem cells are harvested. Let's find a better way.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.