You Mean There Might Be Risk?

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Embryonic stem cells may someday cure disease, reverse paralysis or restore memory. Scientists worry they also may trigger benign tumors, and even cancer.

Geron Corp. and Advanced Cell Technology Inc. plan this year to begin the first human tests of therapies created with stem cells extracted from human embryos. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which may soon approve the studies, is asking the companies to closely monitor whether the therapies can spur non-cancerous growths, as has been seen in animal tests.

The first human studies, by Menlo Park, California-based Geron, may start as soon as this summer in patients partly or wholly paralyzed. The FDA is convening a special public session April 10 to discuss the safety concerns. The agency scheduled the meeting to get help in balancing the pleas of patients with risks that may arise should the therapies gain wide use...

"You don't want a tooth growing in your eye, so we need to absolutely know what will happen,'' said Robert Lanza, the medical director for Alameda, California-based Advanced Cell, in a telephone interview. ``It's not in anyone's interest to have any risk whatsoever.'' MORE

Dr. Lanza's evocative image of "a tooth growing in your eye" makes me think of something our Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?"

The comparison in highly appropriate. Here we have a bunch of physicians, scientists and bureaucrats in a tizzy that the introduction of embryonic stem cells into humans might actually hurt those humans. They conveniently forget that there is a 100% death rate for the embryos who provide these stem cells.

"Ah, but they are only embryos," some will say. So? As Dr. Lanza surely knows, these embryos possess the unique DNA sequences that mark them as separate, individual members of the species homo sapiens. They are human beings. Granted, they are young human beings that are invisible to the naked eye and depend on others for sustenance and protection. Because they are unable to object, and because their fragile bodies possess materials that we think may prove helpful in our quest to live long and pain-free lives, the lives of these young people are snuffed out without regret.

Given all this, I am not a bit surprised if embryonic stem cells create tumors and other ill effects. These are the temporal consequences of the sin committed by those who kill helpless young people for their own enrichment and pleasure. Meanwhile adult stem cells - which do not require the death of the donor - are proving more promising all the time. I think the Lord is sending us a hint.

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