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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

 
From Reuters:

Doctors have begun testing human embryonic stem cells on a patient for the first time, Geron Corp. said on Monday.

Geron has the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration license to use the controversial cells to treat people, in this case patients with new spinal cord injuries. Following are some facts about stem cells:

* Stem cells are the body's master cells, the source of all cells and tissue, including brain, blood, heart, bones and muscles.

* Embryonic stem cells come from days-old embryos and can produce any type of cell in the body.

* Scientists generally harvest embryonic stem cells from embryos left over after in-vitro fertilization attempts at fertility clinics. They can also be produced using cloning technology. Geron worked with IVF surplus embryos.

* Scientists hope to harness the transformational qualities of stem cells to treat a variety of diseases, including injuries, cancer and diabetes.

* Geron's cells will be used to treat patients with recent spinal cord injuries in the hope the cells can help heal the damaged nerves before disability becomes permanent.

* The issue has been controversial because some people believe the destruction of any human embryo is wrong.

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From the BBC:

A Vatican official has said the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to British IVF pioneer Robert Edwards is "completely out of order".

Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the award ignored the ethical questions raised by the fertility treatment.

He said IVF had led to the destruction of large numbers of human embryos.

Nearly four million babies have been born using IVF fertility treatment since 1978.

Mr Carrasco, the Vatican's spokesman on bio-ethics, said in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) had been "a new and important chapter in the field of human reproduction".

But he said the Nobel prize committee's choice of Prof Edwards had been "completely out of order" as without his treatment, there would be no market for human eggs "and there would not be a large number of freezers filled with embryos in the world", he told Italy's Ansa news agency.

"In the best of cases they are transferred into a uterus but most probably they will end up abandoned or dead, which is a problem for which the new Nobel prize winner is responsible."

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From FoxNews.com:
Robert Edwards of Britain won the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for developing in-vitro fertilization, a controversial breakthrough that ignited sharp criticism from religious leaders but helped millions of infertile couples in the last three decades have children.

Edwards, an 85-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, started working on IVF as early as the 1950s. He developed the technique — in which egg cells are removed from a woman, fertilized outside her body and then implanted into the womb — together with British gynecologist surgeon Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988.

On July 25, 1978, Louise Brown in Britain became the first baby born through the groundbreaking procedure, marking a revolution in fertility treatment.

"(Edwards') achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity, including more than 10 percent of all couples worldwide," the medicine prize committee in Stockholm said in its citation.

"Approximately 4 million individuals have been born thanks to IVF," the citation said. "Today, Robert Edwards' vision is a reality and brings joy to infertile people all over the world."

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