Monday 15 October 2012

Nobel Prize winner talking about embryos

Although I had vaguely been aware that the Nobel Prize for Medicine has just been awarded for work on adult stem cells -and thus is good news for pro-lifers opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells- I hadn't realized the full pro-life story behind this until I read the Catholic Herald's quote (not online) from one of the winners, Dr Yamanaka:

When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka. … “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”

A bit of chasing on the web tracked down the full story which can be found here.

As the article puts it:

Shinya Yamanaka, a scientist at Kyoto University, loved stem-cell research. But he didn’t want to destroy embryos. So he figured out a way around the problem. In a paper published five years ago in Cell, Yamanaka and six colleagues showed how “induced pluripotent stem cells” could be derived from adult cells and potentially substituted, in research and therapy, for embryonic stem cells. Today, that discovery earned him a Nobel Prize, shared with British scientist John Gurdon. But the prize announcement and much of the media coverage missed half the story. Yamanaka’s venture wasn’t just an experiment. It was a moral project.

Well worth reading, and well worth pondering why the love of unborn children, in much of our modern media, is the love that really dare not speak its name.

[Update 16/10: Stacy Trasancos has rightly drawn attention to the existence of some (possibly) immoral aspects to Dr Yamanaka's work, in particular, the use of embryonic material as part of the process. See here for article. Whatever the details of the science and ethical consequences here -and I'm not even going to pretend to grapple with these- I'll stand by the above post: the recognition of the value of the unborn by Dr Yamanaka should be celebrated, even if the expression of that concern involved immorality.]

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