Johns Hopkins researchers report that they have developed “nanofibers” impregnated with special proteins which allow them to grow neural stem cells from embryonic stem cells without “requiring high concentrations of growth factors.”
One of the researchers, Neuroscientist Hongjun Song, comments on the immediate results of the research, which will not include actual patient therapy:
“Eventually, stem cells will be very important for treating disease using cell replacement therapy, but more immediately stem cells offer the opportunity to model human disease and find ways to screen for therapeutic drugs to treat the disease.”
Song is a member of the body which oversees stem cell research at Johns Hopkins, the “Stem Cell Policy and Ethics Program.” This means that even though he has a vested interest in maintaining his own lab and promoting his research, he is among those at Johns Hopkins who determine how to follow the institution’s mission:
- Facilitate the ability of the public to benefit from advances in cell engineering in morally responsible ways;
- Anticipate moral and policy challenges in stem cell science and cell engineering; and
- Provide opportunity for careful and interdisciplinary analysis of these challenges that will be of assistance to both policymakers and the public.
The inclusion of Song in justifying and lobbying for his own work under the guise of “ethics” is a serious conflict of interest and can not be called “morally responsible.”
The good news is that some people see an end to the use of embryo destruction. From the article posted earlier today on trading eggs for in vitro fertilization fees:
In any case, the need for eggs may only be temporary.
They are, in fact, only a tool to reprogram the inserted DNA so that it will drive the development of an early embryo. Scientists hope to learn enough about that reprogramming process to let them take an ordinary cell from a person and use it to produce other kinds of cells, perhaps without going through an embryo stage. That might happen in 10 years, Murdoch estimated.
And then they wouldn’t need eggs any more.