Man behind stem cell war may be peacemaker

Nov 23, 2007

The U.S. researcher who set off controversy by taking stem cells from human embryos may have quieted critics by creating a stem cell without using an embryo.

James Thomson sparked a heated national debate in 1998 when his research destroyed human embryos. On Tuesday, his lab at the University of Wisconsin was one of two worldwide reporting a way of turning human skin sells in what seems to be embryonic stem sells without using an embryo, The New York Times reported Friday.

Thomson said he had ethical concerns about embryonic research, even though he aid he knew it would offer insight into human development and held the potential for new treatments.

"If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough," he told the Times.

He said he never anticipated the political and ethical divisiveness his research created.

The new technique, which involves adding four genes to ordinary adult skin cells, will shorten the time before all the ruckus raised by stem cell research is memory.

"A decade from now, this will be just a funny historical footnote," Thomson said in the interview.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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CWFlink
not rated yet Nov 24, 2007
This is a great breakthrough. It is a shame so much venom has been spewed for political reasons. I am still waiting, however, for the animal studies that prove the great value of stem cells. I am still stunned we've spent so much time researching HUMAN stem cells before providing the sound underpinnings required for safe research by fist proving the potential in animal studies. It is as if we're back in the dark ages, "bleeding" patients to get the evil spirits to leave their body! Come on, men and ladies! Where has "do no harm" gone? We are, at a minimum, harming patients by promising solutions that still have not been demonstrated in mice let alone primates.... and in any case, are many years away. We've allowed emotions and politics to drive this research, to the shame of us all.