Scientists look for ways to bypass stem cell research objections

(National-NBC) Oct. 17, 2005 - Ever since it started, stem cell research has been a hot-button issue.

There are both political and ethical objections. But scientists now say they've developed a way to produce the embryonic cells that could end the objections.

So far, these studies have only been conducted in mice. The researchers report creating embryonic stem cells by removing a single cell without destroying the developing embryo.

In a second study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scientists say they've created embryonic stem cells from something made in a lab that appears to be an embryo, but definitely isn't.

MIT researcher Rudolph Jaenisch, "It absolutely cannot implant into the uterus and ever develop into a fetus or a baby."

Robert George with the President's Council on Bioethics says the success of this research lies in the details, "Has Dr. Jaenisch produced non-embryonic entities? Or has he merely produced embryos that are defective or damaged and therefore unable to implant? "

Both studies could hold great promise. Researchers say embryonic stem cells may one day help cure diseases like Parkinson's. But pro-life groups consider the destruction of human embryos murder.

Finding a way to bridge that gap could open millions of dollars in federal funding now off-limits. But a key conservative group isn't convinced. David Prentice of the Family Research Council says, "Whether you are creating a disabled embryo or whether you might potentially damage an existing embryo, you risk that problem of crossing an ethical line when you move to human experiments."

Posted 10:35pm by Chantelle Janelle