Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Debate, Deliberate and then Decide

Talking Points,
Last month in Portland, Ore., doctors for the first time transplanted stem cells from aborted fetuses into his head in a desperate bid to reverse, or at least slow, a rare genetic disorder called Batten disease. The so-far incurable condition normally results in blindness and paralysis before death.

Doctors don't know if the neural stem cells taken from fetuses -- donated to a nonprofit medical foundation by women aborting early-stage pregnancies -- will save Daniel's life. But the boy has sufficiently recovered from his 8-hour surgery to be expected to return to his Orange County, Calif., home Friday -- the first day of Hanukkah.

Research opponents argue that beyond their moral opposition, there is the long list of failed fetal tissue transplant experiments -- most notably those involving hundreds of Parkinson's patients over the last decade, none of whom have shown dramatic improvements.
That's why Oregon Health Sciences University researchers have been trying to temper expectations since they first operated on Daniel on Nov. 14, steadfastly refusing to discuss the experiment except for a brief press conference two days after the operation.

''We don't want people thinking this is the best thing since sliced bread,'' said Dr. Robert Steiner, the lead Batten researcher in Portland.

Full article here.

::update:: The BBC speculates on some disturbing developments related to stem cell research.

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