Sunday, August 27, 2006

Nature corrects wording in release about ACT stem cell work

Rick Weiss of the Washington Post has covered some issues with the ACT work:

But in an unusual move yesterday [August 25, 2006], Nature corrected wording in a lay-language news release it had distributed in advance and posted clarifying data it had asked the scientists to provide.

[Weiss reported criticism by Doerflinger]

First, he [Doerflinger] said the scientists did not make it clear that no embryos survived their experiments. In fact, data in the paper do make that clear, but Nature's initial release said otherwise. It is well established that a single cell can be removed from an eight-cell human embryo without causing any apparent harm to the embryo [IPBiz: the use of PGD in IVF has established this], and the new report aimed only to show that such single cells can become stem cells, lead researcher Robert Lanza said yesterday. In the experiments, the scientists took as many cells as they could from each embryo, destroying them in the process, to make the most of the embryos donated for their study.

[Second] Doerflinger said it was also deceptive for the scientists to say that single embryo cells were coaxed to grow into colonies of stem cells. In the experiment, he noted, those single cells were allowed to feed on hormones secreted by other cells in the nutrient media in which they were grown. That leaves open the question, he said, of whether a single cell can become a colony on its own.

A third point of contention is the fact that the published report includes a photo of a mature embryo, healthy and poised to grow into a fetus after having survived the removal of a single cell. Doerflinger said the photo is deceptive because no embryos in the experiment were allowed to develop that far.

IPBiz notes that Weiss did not discuss the criticism of ACT by Ian Wilmut "the authors make unjustified claims for their techniques."

By only mentioning the criticism of Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Weiss perhaps suggests that the only problems are being raised by those motivatd by a religious/ethics concern. This is consistent with the last words of the article:

"They're really going after everything they can," Lanza said. "They've got the whole machine geared up."


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