Christians opposed to research on human embryos are hoping a new technique will allow scientists to produce stem cells without destroying embryos. Researchers announced in November that they could reprogram skin cells to have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to become any cell type in the body and potentially treat diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson's. The technique does not re¬quire using embryos, either specially created or discarded by fertility clinics.
John Kess¬ler, stem cell biology professor at Northwestern Univer¬sity's Feinberg School of Medicine, told Sojourners the reprogrammed cells could eventually replace embryonic stem cells. "However, there are still many questions about whether the cells would produce cancers, and substantial obstacles will have to be overcome to make them potentially appropriate for use in human beings," Kessler said.
Rev. Thomas Berg, executive director of the Catholic think tank The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person and a member of New York state's stem cell board of ethics committee, said in a statement that he is grateful that scientists responded to ethical concerns. "They have now shown us a way forward that we can all live with," Berg said.