The LA Times reports:
Scientists reported Thursday that for the first time they have made human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, a development that the government's top stem cell official said would make the controversial research eligible for federal funding.
Story Landis, who chairs the National Institute of Health's stem cell task force, said that with certain safeguards, the new method appeared to comply with federal restrictions that have largely cut scientists off from the $28 billion the government spends on medical research each year.
Though the technique spares embryos, it still raises ethical concerns.
The Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, an ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, said that removing a single cell from an embryo turns it into "a starting source for harvestable raw materials, in a gesture that reduces young humans to commodities."
And because the single embryonic cell can be grown into stem cells, some scientists and ethicists wondered whether the cell itself has the potential to become a whole new embryo.
"It would be hard to rule out," said Martin Pera, director of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at USC.
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