For the first time, scientists at Harvard announced on Sunday that they have found a way to fuse adult skin cells with embryonic stem cells, a breakthrough that could allow scientists to use stem cells without having to destroy human embryos, an ethical debate among the Christian community.
The procedure, the scientists found, showed that they were able to use laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells, which was approved by President Bush for federally funded research, to "reprogram" in a person's skin cell by turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell.
In the future, if the experiments show this state can be retained after removing the embryonic stem cell DNA, "the hybrid cells could theoretically be used to produce embryonic stem cells lines that are tailored to individual patients without the need to create and destroy human embryos," said a summary of the research reported on the Science site according to AP.
The new procedure "may circumvent some of the logistical and societal concerns," and take down the barriers of stem cell research, said that Chad A. Cowan, Kevin Eggan and colleagues from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
The ethical concerns will be reflected in the Senate's upcoming debate over a bill that was passed by the House that would force taxpayers to fund stem cell research that would destroy human embryos, but President Bush has promised to veto this legislation.
However, Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Bill Frist who supports stem cell research said that the debate will proceed next month as planned.
Scientists, who support stem cell research, has said that stem cell research can find cures and treat diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis, however, many conservative Christians and pro-life activists oppose the research because stem cells require the destruction of a human embryo.