Catholic medical experts back new ethical embryonic stem-cell research

.- A new experimental technique that could produce embryo-like stem cells — without killing human embryos in the process — has the support of 35 medical experts and ethicists, about half of them Catholic or related to Catholic organizations. The experts issued a statement recently, explaining that the technique would not conflict with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church on embyronic stem-cell research. That’s because, according to this technique, the genetic material injected into an egg would be modified to produce a pluripotent stem cell instead of an embryo.

According to the experts, the cell would be “incapable of being or becoming an embryo.”

"This new proposal addresses the Catholic Church's fundamental moral objection to embryonic stem-cell research as now practiced, by offering to create cells with the properties of embryonic stem cells without ever producing or harming a human embryo," Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of theUSCCB Secretariat for Pro-life Secretariat, told Catholic News Service.

The experts called for the initial research to use only “nonhuman animal cells.”

If the experiments demonstrate “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the technique “can reliably be used to produce pluripotent stem cells without creating embryos, we would support research on human cells,” the experts stated.

Among the signatories to the statement are: Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J, Fr. Kevin FitzGerald, SJ, professor of Catholic health care ethics at Georgetown University; Fr. Kevin Flannery, SJ, dean of philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, and John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Fr. Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.


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