After years of urging the public and governments to support the destruction of embryos, scientists may have led them up a blind alley.This was great news from a week or so ago - but what about the "mad scientists" who wish to perpetuate the killing of innocent human life?
Next week the international grandees of therapeutic cloning gather in Cairns, Australia, the sun-soaked gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, for their annual conference. They have serious strategic issues to deal with along with their scientific papers and posters: persuading governments to open their wallets, ensuring that the Bush Administrations restrictions on their work are lifted, allaying the public's qualms about creating embryos solely for research.
But one issue will dominate: ten years after Dolly the sheep was cloned, is therapeutic cloning ready to be mothballed?
Only a few days ago an article in the leading journal Nature brought amazing news. A Japanese team at Kyoto University has discovered how to reprogram skin cells so that they "dedifferentiate" into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell. From this they can be morphed, theoretically, into any cell in the body, a property called pluripotency. It could be the Holy Grail of stem cell science: a technique which is both feasible and ethical.
Will this disruptive technology open up ethical avenues in the promising field of stem cell research which do not involve turning women into battery hens for their eggs and destroying embryos?Of course, we could have guessed as much!
At the moment, the stem cell grandees, like all establishment figures, have no plans to change their tune. One of the stars of Cairns, MIT's Rudolph Jaenisch, told Nature that therapeutic cloning remains "absolutely necessary".
And executives from embryonic stem cell companies were not optimistic about the new technique either. Because it involves tinkering with the genome, it could be dangerous, warned Thomas B. Okarma, of Geron, the leading private company in the field.Could be dangerous? As if tinkering with embryonic stem cells is not? And no mention is made of one's eternal soul which exists whether or not one wishes to acknowledge it...
As Michael Cook, editor of MercatorNet, tells us:
Don't expect supporters of embryonic stem cell research to respond rationally, not in the short term, at least.Some people, it seems are incapable of responding rationally: terrorists, bigots, many politicians, etc.
Perhaps, the enlightenment of the mind with truth and facts and, by our prayers, a conversion of the heart might take place within our lifetimes, if that be God's will.