Saturday, September 02, 2006

AP reports on Sept. 2 on issues with ACT stem cell work

The AP report of September 2, 2006 begins: An advance in stem cell research that was intended to resolve moral differences over the promising but controversial field has ignited fresh conflict instead.

The AP report continued: Within hours of the paper's release, the journal [Nature] issued a pair of clarifications to the original e-mail that corrected the mistake. But several media outlets included the error in their own accounts. [See previous post on IPBiz.]

The final two paragraphs:

"I think the degree of protest here is the result of the importance of this breakthrough," said Ronald Green, chairman of Advanced Cell Technology's ethics advisory board and a professor of religion at Dartmouth College. "If the president were to turn around tomorrow and authorize stem cell lines produced in this way, in two years' time we could have three to four hundred stem cells lines."

Other scientists have expressed reservations about the significance of the research, saying that it needs to be confirmed through replication. Many would prefer to keep creating stem cells using the current technology, which requires the destruction of embryos about five days into development. At that stage, they constitute a ball of about 100 to 150 cells.

Xinhuanet reported:

Nature editors acknowledge they erred in describing the study as "plucking single cells from human embryos" in a way to generate new stem cell lines "leaving the embryo intact."

A clarification noted that the researchers removed "multiple cells" from some of the embryos, and a following clarification pointed out that the experiments destroyed the embryos.

Dr. Lanza's study used 16 embryos donated by couples to grow two stem cell lines, but the paper by no means discussed the embryos' fate.

Had he taken only a single cell from each, many more embryos would have been needed. Nature, however, incorrectly implied that he had removed just a single cell.

"We're looking to see if the description is clear, but there is nothing wrong with the paper," Nature press officer, Ruth Francis, said yesterday.

Because stem cells can turn into virtually any type of human tissue, researchers hold promise for treating deadly or crippling diseases.


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