posted by June 20 at 11:53 AMon
Using the thoughts of George W Bush as a jumping off point for a scientific discussion is like taking firearm safety advice from Dick Cheney.
Still, a handful of points:
The vast majority of embryonic stem cell research has nothing to do with creating new stem cell lines, or destroying embryos.
In vitro fertilization (test tube babies) is terribly inefficient, resulting in more human embryos than could ever be used to make babies. Most of these excess embryos are eventually bleached and sent down a drain. IVF is basically an unregulated industry in the United States.
The embryos used to make stem cell lines are stopped at the blastocyst stage, a pre-implantation stage that forms 3-5 days after fertilzation. These embryos only have about 150 cells and are significantly smaller than the head of a pin. If not placed in a uterus, they will die on their own after about 14 days total waiting in a dish.
No matter how hard scientists have tried, adult stem cells cannot do many things that embryonic stem cells can do. Want human heart cells (to replace those lost after a heart attack), insulin-producing cells (to replace those lost in diabetes), or dopamine-producing neurons (to replace those lost in Parkinsons)? Human embryonic stem cells are the only definitely established source for these cell types.
See, I told you I shouldn’t let Bush provoke me. For something a bit more fun, I present you surfing rats:
Tip of the hat to Tom Robey at Hope for Pandora.