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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Stem cells: A moral question?

Christians are responsible for understanding each other's ethical reasoning

We hear: “Stem cells will regenerate tissue, restoring health to victims of heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes or spinal injury. And these cells will help us fight cancer.” From another direction we hear: “Those scientists who manipulate our genes are playing God and leading our society toward a Brave New World.” From still another direction: “Scientists are baby-killers, destroying embryos to harvest stem cells and put them in other people’s bodies.”

Like listening to three radios all tuned to different stations, the public debate over human embryonic stem cells sounds like a cacophony of competing voices. How can we sort it out given constant research?

In November 2007, U.S. and Japanese researchers reported that they have reprogrammed human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. Many obstacles still need to be overcome as these new cells are tested in humans.

The science of stem cells is complicated and expensive. It’s still theory—but a promising one. If human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) can be isolated and teased into becoming a targeted tissue, we can regenerate the tissue in our heart, liver, pancreas, brain and spinal cord. A heart attack victim could emerge from regenerative therapy with a stronger heart than before the trauma. Regenerated brain cells could prevent the dementia associated with Alzheimer’s or the disorders of Parkinson’s.


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September issue

SEPTEMBER issue:

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