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McMaster University bulletin errs on stem cells.

Hamilton -- Though much accurate information is provided in Gillian Wansbrough's article "The stem of hope," in the winter, 2006 edition of the McMaster Times, there are several inaccurate statements.

Ms. Wansbrough states that " those who believe that life begins at conception" object to the use of embryonic stem cells. It is not only for those who believe this. The fact is that the science of human embryology long ago established that the life of a human individual, not life such as merely cellular life, begins at fertilization. Current standard textbooks of human embryology confirm this.

Despite the scientifically established fact that an individual human being comes into existence at the moment of fertilization, Dr. Rudnicki, Program Director of Molecular Medicine at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, is quoted as saying that destroying an embryo by using it for research is moral, because it is going to be destroyed anyway! He states that the argument that adult stem cells hold more promise than embryonic stem cells is specious at best. He holds this view despite the abundant evidence that adult stem cells have been used successfully for years in curing disease and that embryonic stem cells have the potential of causing tissue rejection and have never cured anyone.

Dr. Rudnicki also said that early embryos are not "embryos with arms and legs. They are not babies." No indeed, not babies, merely human beings!

Some lady, referred to as "Knoppers," is quoted as stating that an embryo cloned by nuclear transfer from a patient "provides a perfect cell match for the patient, with no fear of rejection." This statement is false.

The only way in which a perfect match can be obtained by cloning is by using a somatic cell nucleus from a woman and transferring its nucleus into an oocyte from that same woman. Even then, epigenic programming errors could be a problem. Therefore, only that woman could benefit from cloning, and no others.

All other types of nuclear transfer cloning produce clones that contain mitochondrial DNA originating in the cytoplasm of the oocyte. This DNA is foreign to the patient and could cause tissue rejection that requires life-long drug treatment that, in turn, could cause infection and malignancy.

Note carefully that recipients and donors of ova, or sperm, or embryos are legally entitled to be accurately informed before consenting to treatment or donation. Failure to so inform a person can result in a lawsuit.

Some pharmaceutical companies have recently lost billions of dollars in court judgments that they have falsified the facts regarding the drugs they sold. Reseachers, physicians, and bioethics committee members must bear this in mind when they make public statements. Patients could be harmed by stem cells originating from cloned embryos or from in vitro fertilized embryos (Dr. John Shea, M.D., FRCP(C)).
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Title Annotation:Canada
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2006
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