08 February 2006

Australian Stem Cell Scientists go for Fresh Embryos


Australian scientists can routinely create new cell lines from discarded frozen embryos. But scientists say that having access to fresh embryos with genetic damage would allow them to develop treatments for genetic diseases. The fresh embryos, they say, are less likely to be damaged than frozen embryos.

The Australian stem cell scientists are seeking the country's first licenses to use fresh embryos in stem cell research. This highlights the international competition in stem cells. Some countries ban the use of embryos in research, and others, like the US, do not allow government funds to sponsor new embryonic stem cell line creation.

Both embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells will eventually enjoy widespread use, and each has its specific set of advantages and disadvantages. It is important that all ethical areas of stem cell research be pursued.

In the US, university presidents in New York State are demanding that state institutions take a more aggressive role in promoting stem cell research. Governor Arnold Scharzenegger of California has created a local sponsorship for stem cell research inside California. The competition for results from stem cell research is heating up not only between countries, but between regions of the same country.

Despite ethical objections and budgetary constraints, the research will be done, genetic diseases will be treated with gene therapies. Eventually, germ cell lines will be treated genetically and this new knowledge will substantially impact human evolution. The main questions are where, when, and how.

Hat tip to Stem Cell Research Blog

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