The Vatican has decided to support stem cell research, calling it an ethical and scientifically more promising than embryonic stem cell research, according to a story filed by Religion News Service.
According to the story, and many other sources, the scientific community maintains the importance of exploring all kinds of stem cell research, and that includes the embryonic type.
However, according to Catholic and other religious doctrines, the destruction of a fertilized egg that is required to explore embryonic stem cells goes against doctrine.
The support from the Vatican regarding adult stem cell research goes back to 2011, when the Pontifical Council for Culture began its collaboration with NeoStem, a bio-pharmaceutical company based in the United States.
From 11 April to 13 April 2013, the Pontifical Council for Culture will hold its second major conference, which will focus on more recent research. One of the goals of the Council will be an attempt to eradicate the anti-science reputation that permeates the Catholic Church.
Robin Smith, the CEO of NeoStem, stated,
“People don’t have to choose between life and science. We want to correct the misunderstanding in public opinion on adult stem cells. People need to understand how far we are with research.”
The story cites celebrities such as Michael J. Fox and Nancy Reagan as supporters of embryonic stem cell research, but opposition from religious groups prompted President George W. Bush to tighten restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. President Obama has since loosened those restrictions.
Smith maintains that adult stem cell research has had better success, citing roughly 4,300 treatments based on adult stem cells, with only 26 based on embryonic stem cells. This may be due in part to the severe restrictions at the hands of conservative religious groups, which have reduced the ability for scientists to pursue further research.
Doug Melton, Co-Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute stated in an interview with Forbes magazine this past January that embryonic remains the 'gold standard against which we measure other types.'
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health,
“Adult stem cells are often present in only minute quantities and can therefore be difficult to isolate and purify. There is also evidence that they may not have the same capacity to multiply as embryonic stem cells do. Finally, adult stem cells may contain more DNA abnormalities—caused by sunlight, toxins, and errors in making more DNA copies during the course of a lifetime.”
For more information, commentary and relevant links, please read the whole story at Religion News Service.