>From the Kaiser Network Daily Reports (free, no subscription), we learn that the Washington Post and others are being forced to backtrack on an unethical press release. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that scientists who have no respect for human life go along with press agents who don’t mind spinning the story!
Daily Women’s Health Policy
Bioethics & Science | Language Changed in News Release for Study That Reports Method of Creating Stem Cells Without Destroying Embryos
[Aug 28, 2006]
The journal Nature on Friday corrected wording in a news release it had distributed in advance of a study published in the Aug. 24 edition of the journal that describes a technique that could derive human embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryo, the Washington Post reports. The “basic facts of the report remain unchallenged,” according to the Post (Weiss, Washington Post, 8/26). Robert Lanza, medical director of Worcester, Mass-based Advanced Cell Technology, and colleagues described the technique as removing a single cell — known as a blastomere — from a three-day-old embryo with eight to 10 cells and using a biochemical process to create embryonic stem cells from the blastomere. Researchers removed 91 blastomeres from 16 thawed embryos donated by fertility clinic patients and found that more than half of the blastomeres began to multiply and that in two cases the blastomeres became embryonic stem cells. The method of removing a cell from the embryo is based on preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, which usually is used to test the cell for genetic deficiencies. Lanza said that the research destroyed some of the embryos used but that single-cell extractions that leave the embryo unharmed should be feasible in the future. In addition, the researchers wrote that single cells taken from three-day-old embryos “have never been shown to have the intrinsic capacity to generate a complete organism in any mammalian species” (Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, 8/24).
The change in the release came after Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an e-mail wrote that the results presented in the release were misleading. According to Doerflinger, the researchers in the release did not make it clear that the embryos used in the research did not survive in the experiments. He also said that it was deceptive for the researchers to write that single embryonic cells could grow into stem cell colonies because in the experiment the cells were fed on hormones secreted by other cells. This raises the question of whether the cell removed from the blastomere can develop into a cell colony, Doerflinger wrote. In addition, he wrote that it was deceptive to publish a photo of a mature embryo along with the study results because no embryos in the study grew to that stage of development. Lanza responded to the three points, saying that it previously has been proved that a cell can be removed from a blastomere without harming the embryo; that the need for hormones to help the cell grow can be provided from other laboratory cells or from the remaining seven-cell embryo from which the first cell was taken; and that the team did not provide data regarding the healthy embryo because that was not the focus of the paper. According to the Post, the data related to the picture on Friday was added to Nature’s Web site (Washington Post, 8/26). In related news, Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, on Saturday in an interview with Vatican Radio said that Lanza’s method of producing stem cells remains an in vitro form of reproduction, which the Roman Catholic Church opposes. He also said that the research is “manipulation” and that it “doesn’t solve the ethical problems” regarding embryonic stem cell research (Sanminiatelli, AP/Washington Post, 8/26).
(Be sure and go to the Kaiser site, and read the “Related” stories at the bottom, too.)