Adult stem cells
The destruction of embryos for the stem cells they contain may soon be a thing of the past, following news that Japanese scientists have discovered a better stem cell production technique using adult skin cells.
Stem cells are important because they can be grown into various kinds of body tissues for use in clinical procedures. Confirmation of the shift in scientific thinking came when Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, announced he was moving away from embryo research and taking the Japanese approach.
Up to now, some scientists have insisted that stem cells from embryos were most likely to lead to clinical treatments. However, this method involves the destruction of a human embryo and so far no treatments have been developed. Research using adult stem cells has shown more promise.
News of an alternative, non-embryonic technique has been welcomed by pro-life groups. Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, told the BBC: ‘At last scientists are starting to see reason. It is a gift to us all. We are at last going to see some common sense coming into the debate’.