Friday, January 14, 2011

Macular Degeneration and Human Embryonic Stem Cells

by William E. May, Ph.D., Senior Fellow


The Reuters News Agency reported on January 3 that the Federal Drug Administration had granted the Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) firm the right to try out using embryonic stem cells for treating macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness. ACT’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Robert Lanza, said that ACT would immediately recruit patients with age related macular degeneration and would use stem cells procured by destroying embryonic human beings in an effort to help these patients retain or recover their vision.

This essay will first explain what macular degeneration is and note its different forms. It will then focus on the morality of using human embryonic stem cells in efforts to cure persons suffering from maladies, and then report and reflect on relevant scientific evaluations of the therapeutic value efficacy of embryonic stem cell research.
Article: Culture of Life

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Advanced Cell Technology has developed and patented a process for removing stem cells from an embryo without HARMING the embryo.
Please do your research before printing inaccurate information in an article that you print
Brian

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog Dr. May. You may be intersted in reading the following news article from Science Daily and the journal article referenced in it;


http://www.cellstemcell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS193459090700330X

http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/abstract/S1934-5909(07)00330-X

Anonymous said...

The previous comment refers to a study abstract indicating that Advanced Cell Technology has harvested embryonic stem cells without harming the embryo. This is encouraging but we need more information before giving this process the ethical "green light".

As noted by the web site thestemcellinfo.com, "Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology, led by Robert Lanza, reported the successful derivation of a stem cell line using a process similar to preimplantation genetic diagnosis, in which a single blastomere is extracted from a blastocyst. It should be noted that this process has not yet demonstrated the ability of donor blastocysts to survive to term as well after blastomere harvesting. Nevertheless, this technique may in future allow for the creation of stem cells without embryonic destruction."

Anonymous said...

A question that remains is whether a person subjected to this process would then able (or allowed) to survive to maturity. It also raises the question of informed consent, which by all accounts cannot be given by an embryonic human.