Sunday, September 03, 2006

NYT on Sept. 2: Clarification Issued on Stem Cell Work

In an article "Clarification Issued on Stem Cell Work" by Nicholas Wade, the New York Times addresses some, but not all, of the criticism of the ACT work.

Wade observed:

Dr. Lanza noted in his article that the cell removed in this test, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., could be used, after growing and dividing, both for testing and, with his new technique, to derive human embryonic stem cells. Since the original embryo would be unharmed, a principal objection to the research would be removed, he said.

Dr. Lanza’s article in Nature made clear that he had not saved the embryos in his own experiments, in which he used as many as eight cells from each of some 16 donated embryos. Had he taken only a single cell from each, many more embryos would have been needed. The press release issued by Nature, however, incorrectly implied that he had removed just a single cell.

Wade skips over some territory here. If, hypothetically, one could grow a stem cell line from a cell removed from an 8 or 16 cell blastocyst, then 16 donated embryos (blastocysts) would have been plenty to demonstrate a proof of principle. One would wonder why Wade is writing "many more [than 16] embryos would be needed." Wade also skips over the fact that the single removed cell [blastomere] was not by itself in the Petri dish. There were other cells present. Wade also skips over the photograph issue.

Wade also noted:

Dr. Lanza said yesterday [Sept. 1 ?] that Nature had not shown him the original press release before publication.

In the beginning of the NYT article, Wade introduced the issue in the following way:

The scientific journal Nature has corrected a press release and is considering whether to add further information to an article published last week reporting that human embryonic stem cells could be generated without destroying an embryo.


The journal’s action follows numerous news reports on the article and criticism from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which pointed out that embryos used in the research were being destroyed, a fact made clear in the scientific paper but not the press release.


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