Adult Skin Cells Converted Into Immune Cells

Scientists reported success last week in converting skin cells into immune cells, reports columnist Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Tribune, citing the journal Nature as his source.

The all-but-ignored development, writes Mr. Byrne, has great promise for treating diseases like diabetes, immune deficiencies, Parkinsonís, Alzheimerís and spinal cord injuries. Using cells from the patientís own body, the risk of rejection is overcome. Best yet, no one, not even a tiny new life, needs to be killed to access the cures foreshadowed by the new discovery.

This is joyful news, writes Mr. Byrne, adding, Well, not everywhere. In fact, in some circles, itís almost as if it never happened and never could happen . . . It has run into a public relations juggernaut that claims that the best, if not the only, rout to this kind of medical treatment is human cloning. With near religious fervor, the argument is made that the best source of master cells for making designer cells is the undifferentiated stem cells taken from cloned embryos.

What they fail to acknowledge is the principle, writes Mr. Byrne, that if there are two ways to get to the same goal, and one is less morally objectionable than the other, then in conscience we should take the less morally objectionable path. Especially when the alternative route is more direct and, as scientists say of admired discoveries, Ďelegantly simple.í

Most Americans agree, writes Mr. Byrne, citing a public opinion survey taken by The Polling Co. for Stop Human Cloning. Americans rejected human cloning for embryos 59% to 26%, even if it is for the purpose of curing cancer and other major diseases.

Addressing fence-sitting readers, Mr. Byrne writes, If you can accept the idea that an embryo is at least nascent human life, then you ought to be worried about creating what Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, called Ďan underclass of sub humans . . . whose parts can be cannibalized and scavenged for the benefit of others.í If you are not troubled by the idea that human life should be created for the sole purpose of serving others (this used to be called slavery in America, and the Nazis used to do experiments on mentally and physically disabled people deemed to have no other value), then we donít have much to discuss.í (Life Advocacy Briefing, 5/6/02 lifeadvocacy@aol.com)

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